It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good job may not really be known to those he serves, even if he has served a good many years.
With that in mind, let me introduce myself to those who don't know me. My name is Block/Guerrero, and I'm the chancellor and athletic director of one of the great universities in America, UCLA. It is, as you may imagine, a difficult job. But I have survived — and may I say prospered? — by doing things my way as the famous singer Frank something once sang.
Now you may, and probably should, ask what "my way" is. So let me start by offering a few general principles, followed by some recent examples. To start with, I believe the greatest good for the community is inextricably linked to my ability to hold each of these jobs; to wear each of these hats, so to speak. UCLA would not be the same without me. Never mind what the results of my decisions are. The pay goes way beyond substantial, and it arrives with a regularity that is nothing if not reassuring.
But I believe in more than that, of course. There is a lot of talk nowadays — way too much, in my opinion — about making reasonable decisions, given the financial constraints that all the UC campuses now face. I'm referring to, among other things, the tiresome use of "due diligence" in deciding whom to hire or whose contract to extend. How long does the vetting process have to go? Let me put it this way: Do we really need to consider the track record of coaches beyond their last year of work? Not in my view.
I promised you examples, and you shall have them. I get a sense there's some concern about the football coach we hired a few years ago. (I put this kind of thing a bit behind getting my early morning coffee, but it's out there, and I have to deal with it.) If I understand it correctly, the concern seems to be that he hasn't out-coached his rivals and may not have done so when he worked in some kind of league for professional players. So what? Hasn't he recruited well and improved the "culture" of the team? What do all these critics want? Three out of three? Is that even realistic?
And then there's the matter of the basketball coach. Something about an experience at the University of Iowa that left some people unhappy. Really? All those years ago? He got us into the "sweet 16" in 2013, didn't he? I mean, I turned to Brad Stevens first, but it didn't work out. On top of all that, I've now had to contend with the fuss about extending his contract. It was premature, you say? Well, my desire to do it wasn't premature. End of discussion.
And btw, that brings me to a third ruling principle I've followed to great success. When things don't work out at first, PANIC, ALWAYS PANIC. (Now that I think of it, when Chris Petersen wasn't interested in the football job I panicked again. Do you know what would have happened if I had remained calm and kept my focus? The search would have taken longer! That's what would have happened.)
Here's the thing: I know Coach John Wooden was a great man and won a lot of championships. But that was then, and this is now. I'm here to lead UCLA into the future; I can't wallow in the past. All this talk about being in the conversation for national titles is something I don't follow. What does it mean, and what good is a "conversation?"
It kind of reminds me about all the fuss — totally misplaced, I think — when the athletic department wanted to put students at the fringes of basketball games in Pauley instead of at center court. Hello out there! We're trying to raise money for UCLA, not strengthen the undergraduates' ties to their alma mater.
Finally, I'm known as someone who blogs and sends out emails to the larger community. I invite you to join me in future dialogues as long as you keep the larger context in mind. It's my way or no way; no need to elaborate.
(Writer's note: An attempt at satire isn't usually followed by this kind of note, but I'm as livid as I've ever been about what I see as the malfeasance at the heart of UCLA athletics, so I had to vent, with apologies to Jane Austen fans. But in joining the practice of "preaching to the converted," which predominates on Bruins Nation, like all sports sites, I'm afraid I haven't contributed to changing anything in the power structure that defies common sense. So again I want to express my hope that readers will consider my suggestion in a previous post and show up to make comments at the various Board of Regents meetings throughout the state. I'm sure I'm not alone in being willing to help with the necessary research.)