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Bruins Nation Round Table on the Steve Alford Hiring Process

The BN frontpagers get together to discuss the process in which Steve Alford became the new coach of the UCLA men's basketball team.

Victor Decolongon

After a week of anticipation, UCLA has hired Steve Alford to be it's next men's basketball coach. There have been some legitimate concerns that have come up about this entire process - from the search and vet, the possible burning of bridges, and to extensive discussions about the Pierce incident at Iowa and the lack of ownership of the incident, and even the contributions from a fellow SBN site, the frontpagers have come together to discuss the hiring process.


1. What was the most bizarre aspect of the so called "search process" that led to Dan Guerrero's hiring of Alford?

freesia39: That he wasn't even being floated. He had just "agreed" to a 10 year extension at New Mexico, and when people agree to a 10 year deal, most don't start talking to another suitor. It's not like he's a former Bruin or that he's from California, or he's a disciple of a former UCLA coach, so it's just weird.

Achilles: I admit that I didn't follow it moment by moment like some others -- partly because I don't like looking at train wrecks and traffic accidents. I had more of a "just tell me who we hired" approach. That said, I think fact that Alford's name was never mentioned on BN or BRO or any of the MSM and then suddenly he was hired was bizarre. Names were leaking all over the place and suddenly Alford was hired.

tasser10: There was no search committee, so there was no search process. Guerrero's method amounted to a shy boy passing a note in the classroom to the girl he likes saying "I kinda like you", and that's it. No perseverance, no pursuit, no pitch. He is the worst salesman ever, so afraid of rejection that he barely even tries. His mentality was to look for someone who wanted the job in order to save himself the work, as if the UCLA job is such a burden. He is either arrogant or lazy. Think about it...there was no formal offer made to anyone else. Once an initial feeler came back negative, he gave up.

bruinclassof10: I agree with tasser here. There was no search committee or "process." This whole thing was bizarre and perpetuated by "insider rumors" that were being floated by another website. Basically, we got what we expected, a classic bungled search process by Chianti Dan. Did you guys expect anything different?

Patroclus: Hearing that one of the justifications for not making a strong run at Shaka Smart was that he was negotiating an extension with VCU, and then ending up with Steve Alford today in part because he had just finished negotiating an extension at New Mexico. Ordinarily, the lack of a logical or even recognizable search process would be the bizarre part, but with Dan Guererro running the athletic department, this was to be expected.

Tydides: Nothing is bizarre anymore when it comes to Chianti. Nothing. Terrible search process? Aimless throw-crap-at-the-wall style procedures? Complete lack of research and vetting? All standard operating procedure when it comes to Dan. If the botched football coach search didn't convince you, this one has to; Chianti is completely and totally incompetent.

DCBruins: That interested coaches were not talked to. I realize that "interest" can be self interest as in using UCLA as leverage for more money. But, to do a half ass job on Stevens and turn instantly to Alford does not make sense. It seems Dan had to try for Stevens because of the search committee but Alford was his choice.

AHMB: Imagine seeing a clown riding a bicycle down the street with a juggling monkey on the handlebars and being asked what was the most bizarre part of the sight? The whole damn mess is bizarre. If I had to pick one part, it would be the fact that the juggling monkey ... err Dan Guerrero still has a seat at the table. He should not have been part of the search, and appears to have done more harm than good.

gbruin: It is terribly disappointing that U.C.L.A. had this incredible opportunity to reunite the fan base and restore faith in our marquee program by bringing in a top candidate, but that the Morgan Center either didn't talk to people who expressed interest (Self, Smart, Pitino) or fell short in enticing one they did approach (Stevens). You have to look back at your salesman and ask what the hell he was thinking. The most bizarre part of the "search" is that we found someone that no one was looking for.

Bellerophon: Nothing. This is par for the course for Chianti Dan. It's just funny in a sad, tragic way. The fact that Dan ran this "search" like a desperate teenager looking for acceptance ("oh, Brad Stevens doesn't want to come, oh no, I have to find someone NOW!") isn't a surprise: it's just another indicator of the kind of feckless, weak-willed b**ch that runs Morgan Center.

2. Do you think Chancellor Block should have met Alford in person before UCLA extending an offer to Alford?

freesia39: I get the feeling the Chancellor doesn't really involve himself in the "Athletics" side of UCLA.

Achilles: This is obvious. You don't hire anyone without them meeting multiple people in your organization. I wouldn't hire a secretary without at least introducing them to my boss.

tasser10: what good would that do? Anyone who thinks Guerrero is doing a good job is either clearly ignorant or just doesn't give a hoot. I'm sure he would meet the dean of one of the colleges before hiring him, but basketball? Leave it for the peasants! Let them eat cake!

bruinclassof10: If our chancellor was one of us, then yes, it would make sense but in many of our opinions, Gene Block will never be a UCLA Bruin and judging by the job that he's not doing, he will NEVER leave a legacy at UCLA unless we want to christen a new dumpster. Recessive Gene is probably still trying to figure out what kind of Doctors, Jim Mora and Dan Guerrero are and what exactly goes on in the Morgan Center.

Patroclus: I would say yes, but it makes entirely too much sense for this administration to have done. In my past, I have worked at Cal and UVa in basic assistant/researcher types of positions. Before getting official offers from either university, I met face to face with multiple higher-ups in the respective departments as part of a hiring/vetting process that was seemingly longer and more through than Dan Guererro's signing Alford to a 7-year, $19 million contract to be the head coach/CEO of UCLA Basketball. Given that the head basketball coach is at least one of the 3 main public faces of UCLA, one would think that Chancellor Block might care as well.

Tydides: Ideally it wouldn't matter. Our Chancellor should be able to delegate something like this to our AD and not worry about it being a complete F-up. But Chianti is an F-up and needs adult supervision. Too bad Block doesn't run things like an adult either.

DCBruins: Yes. This is a major hire. Character counts and Block should have weighed in on the finalists.

AHMB: Tydides hit this on the head. The AD should be capable of competently conducting a coaching search.

gbruin: In a perfect world, we should trust the Athletic Director to conduct a thoughtful and thorough search from his office. Alas, we live in a world with the Morgan Center. As a result, Block should have been involved in this process for one reason: Dan Guerrero. Sadly, there is one reason for Dan Guerrero: Block. It is this circle of ineffectiveness and apathy that gives us coaching searches like this.

Bellerophon: Yes, without a doubt. For better or worse, your university's head basketball coach and head football coach are the faces of the school to a large segment (if not the majority) of Americans. Quick, who is the face of Duke? Coach K. Face of the University of Washington? Sark and Romar. Face of Johns Hopkins? Ummmmm. See my point? If your university intends on embracing athletics as part of its tradition, if you're the big boss, then you have to be invested in making sure both positions have a solid hire, which means you meet the man face-to-face before you start signing his paychecks! What is this, AYSO or Little League?!

3. If you were conducting a search process for UCLA basketball would you have Alford as a "second tier" or "third tier" option? If not can you give us the names of at least three coaches who should have been pursued with a full court press?

freesia39: Truthfully, Alford wasn't on my radar, because HE LOST TO HARVARD. Not a slam against Harvard, but HARVARD NEVER WON A TOURNAMENT GAME before that game. I didn't realize losing to a higher ranked academic institution was sufficient experience to coach at UCLA. Gotta chase those rankings. I would have actually given Shaka a phone call. I would have been in contact with Gregg Marshall's people. Frankly, I don't see a lot of attractive second or third tier coaches. For a laugh, I might have called Dana Altman.

Achilles: I don't really have an answer to this. My enjoyment of college basketball has waned over the years, in part at least because UCLA basketball has not been much fun to follow. So, I'm not familiar with all of the mid-major coaches and all that. That said, Brad Stevens has taken Butler to the Final Four so I would surely have made him an offer. I would have given Steve Fisher from San Diego State a call. SDSU has had some nice teams the past few years, he won a ring at Michigan and also coached the Fab Five there. His assistant, Tony Bland, is from L.A (I think) and is supposed to be a top recruiter. So, I would have been interested in Fisher who might not have stayed 20 years, but might have righted the ship for 7-8 years. After that, I don't really know.

tasser10: Going by Guerrero's logic, Randy Bennett should have been contacted. Stevens and Smart are no-brainers, and sure, they may have eventually turned down the job. But how can you not even make an offer? Who cares if you are rejected? You need to send a message about what you think of your own program's standing, for crying out loud.

bruinclassof10: I, personally follow college basketball and want the best for my university, which is more than can be said about our sad sack AD, so Alford would not have even received a call until the entire NCAA tournament ended and I had ample time to gauge real interest. I would've put the full court press on Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart and put feelers out on top tier coaches like Bill Self and Tom Crean just to gauge interest and see what it'd take to bring in a top tier coach. Chianti Dan settled, he knows it and we all know it. Why does he still have a job again?

Tydides: There are only two tiers. Chianti did a decent job tier and Chianti should be fired immediately tier. Guess which one Alford falls into?

AHMB: Honestly, I don't know. Other than Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens, who were my 1a and 1b choices, I just don't enough about the college game right now to say where Alford would rank after them. I will say that he had a good record at New Mexico after turning around a program that had been struggling before he arrived.

gbruin: Alford would have been third tier for me based on his tournament record. We could throw out the usual names we should have pursued and there was legitimate interest from several of them that our dear leader failed to follow up on. People who say we didn't have a prayer with those big names have no clue what really happened. We should have sold Stevens. We should have waited on Donovan. Guys like Buzz Williams and Jay Wright look far better to me. Guerrero showed no patience, no closer instinct, and he settled.

Bellerophon: Fourth tier. His tournament record is mediocre (that's being nice). He had a couple of good seasons in the 20th century with Southwest Missouri State and has done nice (but not spectacular by any stretch) at New Mexico. His one stint in a real conference showed he's not really a big-time coach. Maybe he'll surprise us all, but I'm not optimistic. After making a serious run at Stevens, I would have turned to Smart, and made calls to Donovan, Pitino, and Self. What's the worst that can happen? They say no, and I move on to calling Gregg Marshall or Jay Wright. What's the worst that can happen? They say no, and I can still go sign Steve Alford, since NO ONE else was pursuing him.

4. In a scale ranging from 1 to 10 - 1 being depressed and 10 being super excited - give a number to rate your emotion regarding the future of UCLA basketball as Steve Alford taking over as the new Bruins' head coach?

freesia39: You know what, I'll put myself at a five. I'm not giddy over this hire, but he still needs to be given space to coach and build his version of the UCLA basketball program and he could totally surprise us. But the red flags from his Iowa employment are going to be all over my mind, and if he's not getting those LA recruits we were promised just by virtue of him being hired, or our players are not developing, then it's back to 2 - yay UCLA but booo the administration of the program. But always remember our expectations - we want to be part of the discussion for national titles. Not necessarily to win it, but I don't want to be dismissed from the conversation. Ever again.

Achilles: I'm pretty depressed, maybe a three. But I'm wondering from where exactly my depression is coming from. I think it's partly because Alford has always been a guy i've rooted against, perhaps irrationally. I've always rooted against Indiana and Bob Knight and Alford comes out of that program. I remember how he reacted when the Pacers drafted UCLA's Reggie Miller over him (Miller, of course, played his whole career there and is now a Hall of Famer, so right choice). And his teams aren't particularly exciting. Getting a new coach is like dating a new girl for the first time. You want to feel excited. You want to feel turned on. You want that feeling of the unknown. You want that anticipation of the first time she unbuttons her blouse. Hiring a total unknown like Andy Enfield, if nothing else, feels exciting -- like a blind date. Hiring Alford feels like being set up on a date with your friend's girlfriend's friend, some chick you've known for years but never felt at all attracted to. I mean, your friend already made the dinner reservation so you're stuck going and now you're hoping for the best (maybe she's not who you think she is - maybe she's changed) but you aren't really looking forward to it. That's how I feel about Alford. Maybe he isn't the guy I've been rooting against all these years. Maybe he's more fun than he appears. So, I'll give him a shot. But I've got a friend who is going to call me later in the evening and if things are going lousy I'm going to pretend it's an emergency and bail out on the date.

tasser10: I am at a 2 with a significant sprinkling of anger. At 1, I would probably give up on UCLA basketball. I expect Romar-like results for the next 5 years. It's an uninspired, desperate hire by a lazy bureaucrat.

bruinclassof10: I was more excited about the Mora hire because we had no idea what we were going to get and I knew that Neuheisel had recruited talented players. Right now, I'm at about a 2 (and you're talking to a guy who saw 2 Final Four teams and went to every single home basketball game while he was in school). No knock on Alford but I'm at a 2 because the guy who hired him and the guy who is keeping the guy who hired him, are still around.

Tydides: I guess I would have been a 3-4 before by virtue of the fact that he's not Gottfried or Romar. With the whole sexual assault victim intimidation thing and his complete lack of ownership over it, 1 1/2 maybe? I don't want this to become a situation where even if he has success I can't fully enjoy it because I think the guy is a terrible person. His introductory conference did not inspire confidence that he understands why his actions 11 years ago are so reprehensible.

DCBruins: Agree with Tydides maybe a point higher. "Could have been worse" is not a good way to start.

AHMB: If I had been asked before I read about some of the allegations regarding his term at Iowa, I would have been more optimistic.

gbruin: From a basketball standpoint, I'm at a 3 or 4, mostly out of disappointment in who we failed to get, and not so much due to Alford specifically. U.C.L.A. really needed something more inspiring.

Bellerophon: When Howland was fired, I was at a solid 9. When Alford was announced, I slid back to a 6 maybe (mostly because my reaction was "who the hell is this guy?!"). Then I started reading about Alford, and I'm down to a 3. I'm hoping Alford will make me care about hoops again, but I'm not hopeful on that front. Thank God for football returning.

5. Who has done more damage to the legacy of UCLA basketball? Chancellor Carnesale who kept Steve Lavin around longer than he should have or Chancellor Block whose lack of leadership has put the Bruin Nation in the situation we are today?

freesia39: Tied. Worst tie ever.

Achilles: I don't know about this one. I'll call it even.

tasser10: TBD. Obviously we don't know yet how Alford will do. If he flames out, it will be Block.

bruinclassof10: I was an undergraduate student during the beginning of the Gene Block era and considering that Dan Guerrero is still in a position to wreak havoc on UCLA Athletics with his 4th rate coaching searches, I'd say hands down, Gene Block. I wouldn't even imply that sending out a few e-mails a year soliciting money, could even be called "leadership." Gene is a spineless, tonedeaf bureaucrat and as a young alumni, I know plenty of us who will celebrate the day he leaves our beloved alma mater because we can start donating again. Due to his inaction, it's time to heat up Gene's seat and get his ignorant, clueless ass out of Westwood.

Tydides: A pox on both your houses.

DCBruins: If there is any off the court trouble as much as it pains me to say this worse. Otherwise better because Alford is at least a coach.

AHMB: Ugh. Both.

gbruin: Block is worse. He should have seen how critical this hire was for our fan base and our program and he never bothered to care. Carnesale made a bad decision with Lavin, but was involved in the Howland hire which was the right move at the time. Block allows Guerrero to stay employed. Block took no part in this hire. Block just doesn't give a damn.

Bellerophon: Hard to say. They both sucked. Carnesale hired Chianti Dan, so that's a major strike. I mean, they hired a guy, with ZERO experience running a big-time Division I athletics department. Hell, they hired a guy with ZERO experience running an athletic department with a damn football team, let alone a BCS conference team expected to go toe-to-toe with God damn Southern Cal. On the flip side, Block hasn't fired Dan and he's let this bullshit go on for a long time, even after the SI story made us look like crap. But I'm going with Carnesale for now, mostly because I hope Block is forced to pulling the trigger on Chianti, whereas Carnesale is the ass-wipe who served up the giant turd sandwich known as Chianti Dan in the first place.