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Expectations v. Reality: Data Says Alford is the Worst UCLA Coach Since 1975

Steve Alford says Bruins’ fans are unrealistic in their expectations, but the data say otherwise.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-First Round-Kent State and UCLA Bruins
Steve Alford please close your mouth and get to work
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Joe put up a post which sums up many of our feelings about Steve Alford’s worst quote as UCLA Coach that “truth be told too, you’re talking about from ’75 to current, there’s been one national title. So I know that history too. It’s just we know what our expectations are and we’re going to play as hard as we can and do as well as we can.”

Alford goes on to brag about his three Sweet 16 finishes. Joe laid out the emotional case. Now, let’s layout the factual case and let’s only talk about since Wooden left.

Deepest Tournament Run by UCLA Coach since Wooden (First time only listed for multiple times)

1. Jim Harrick (National Championship, 1995)

2. Larry Brown (National Runner-Up, 1980)

2. Ben Howland (National Runner-Up, 2006)

4. Gene Bartow (Final Four, 1976)

5. Gene Cunningham (Elite Eight, 1979)

5. Steve Lavin (Elite 8, 1997)

7. Steve Alford (Sweet 16, 2014)

8. Walt Hazzard (Round of 32, 1987)

8. Larry Farmer (Round of 32, 1983)

Of the nine coaches since John Wooden, Alford ranks seventh for deepest tournament run. I do not thinking this is a passing grade. More importantly, UCLA fans are being perfectly reasonable to expect more than a “Steve 16” from their coaches.

PAC 8/10/12 Best Regular Season Finish

1. Gene Bartow (1st, 76 and 77)

1. Gary Cunningham (1st, 78 and 79)

1. Larry Farmer (1st, 83)

1. Walt Hazzard (1st, 87)

1. Jim Harrick (1st, 92, 95,and 96)

1. Steve Lavin (1st, 97)

1. Ben Howland (1st, 06, 07, 08, 13)

8. Steve Alford (2nd, 14)

9. Larry Brown (3rd, 81)

If you combine these two measures of coaching, Steve Alford not only fails but is unquestionable the worst coach by the data for UCLA since 1975. Steve Alford is the only coach to fail to get a team to the national championship game or win a PAC 8/10/12 regular season title.

The fans are not being unreasonable for expecting more than a regular season run good enough to qualify for the tournament and reach a Sweet 16. UCLA fans are 100% correct to expect more than Steve Alford has accomplished in his seasons as UCLA coach.

One last list.

Worst seasons by each UCLA coaches since 1975 by total losses.

1. Steve Lavin — 10-19 (2003 left after season)

2. Ben Howland — 11-17 (2004)

3. Steve Alford — 15-17 (2016)

4. Walt Hazzard — 15-14 (1986) and 16-14 (1988, left after season)

5. Larry Farmer — 17-11 (1984, left after season)

6. Jim Harrick — 22-11 (1990 and 1993)

7. Larry Brown — 22-10 (1980)

8. Gene Bartow — 24-5 (1977, left after season)

8. Gary Cunningham — 25-5 (1979, left after season)

Alford is again toward the top (or bottom) of the loss list. It is also worth noting that five of the nine coaches left after their worst season but not Alford.

Strictly by the numbers, Steve Alford is so far the worst UCLA coach since 1975. It is reasonable for UCLA fans to expect their current coach after four season to not rank at the bottom (or top in the case of losses) of all coaching lists as Alford does. He is not living up to the reasonable expectations for a UCLA Basketball coach and owes the fans an apology for his comments.