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Why UCLA Bruins Fans Will Get a New Basketball Coach Before a New Athletic Director

A lot of Bruin fans are understandably upset. They want blood and they want it now. They aren’t content with firing Steve Alford. They want Athletic Director Dan Guerrero fired, too. How likely is that? Let’s take a realistic view of the landscape.

EPIX & UCLA Present ‘Forgotten Four: The Integration Of Pro Football’
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, shown with African American Studies Senior Lecturer Paul Von Blum and former decathlete Rafer Johnson, at a screening of ’Forgotten Four: The Integration Of Pro Football’ on September 9, 2014.
Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for EPIX

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that a lot of people who have been commenting both here on the Bruins Nation website and on our Facebook page have been saying the same things that those of us here at Bruins Nation have said for years:

  1. Steve Alford must go/Fire Steve Alford now.
  2. Dan Guerrero must go/Fire Dan Guerrero now.

Because many of these fine folks are just now getting involved in the conversation, I thought that I should take a moment to explain the lay of the land to our new friends.

But, before I do that, let me start by saying that everyone who wants them both gone is absolutely 100% correct. Both Steve Alford and Dan Guerrero should be relieved of their duties by UCLA. I couldn’t agree with you more.

In an ideal world, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block would be having a meeting this morning with Director Guerrero and instructing him to fire Alford immediately and, once that was accomplished, Block would hold another meeting with Guerrero and fire him immediately as well.

Block would immediately start the process of hiring a new AD, who would then start the process of hiring a new men’s basketball coach.

That would pretty much be the perfect scenario to fix not just men’s basketball but the entire UCLA Athletic Department in general.

Unfortunately, it’s also not very realistic.

For whatever reason, Gene Block has consistently refused to use on-field and on-court success of UCLA’s top two revenue sports as a measuring stick of Dan Guerrero’s job performance.

Should it be? Absolutely. But is it? Unfortunately not.

Over the years, we’ve occasionally heard from Block as to what he thinks is important from UCLA’s Athletic Director. Specifically, he has cited that Dan Guerrero “has fiscal management.” Block also cited “athletic victories” in the same statement, but that claim is questionable at best, given that Guerrero has fired a total of six head coaches in football and men’s basketball.

Nothing has really changed from a fiscal management perspective since Block commended Guerrero for it back in the Spring of 2013 and, as a result, there is very little reason to believe that Block would want to make a change in athletic directors.

This is why it is critically important to avoid making the perfect, getting rid of both Alford and Guerrero, the enemy of the good, firing Alford as soon as possible.

To be sure, Guerrero may be planning to retire sometime in the next 18 months. In a 2015 interview with Ryan Kartje of the Orange County Register when the topic of retirement came up, Guerrero smiled and said, “My contract ends December 31, 2019.”

As I’ve said here before, that 2013 contract extension would seem to be the best indicator of Guerrero’s intention that Bruin fans have. All of his previous contracts ended in the Spring. So, there was a deliberate change to the date that the contract ends.

Of course, 2019 is an important year for UCLA as a university. UCLA will celebrate its centennial as a school in the coming year. Will that celebration begin in January or wait until Fall? We don’t know that yet, but UCLA began instruction in the Fall of 1919 and it seems like the plan is for a centennial celebration of some sort. UCLA has been fundraising under its Centennial campaign for a few years already.

As a result, it seems as though Guerrero plans to stay in his job to celebrate the school’s centennial. Could he announce his retirement sooner? Sure. He could also make an official announcement that he will retire at the end of 2019.

I think the most realistic scenario will have Guerrero announce his retirement, effective the end of the 2019-2020 school year or upon the hiring of his replacement at some point after December 31, 2019 but before June 2020.

So what does all this mean?

It means that Guerrero won’t be fired by Gene Block and will likely be retiring within the next 18 months.

After watching the UCLA men’s basketball team over the past month, it’s clear to just about everybody with a pulse that Steve Alford needs to go away.

Sure, it would be wonderful if Dan Guerrero decided to announce his retirement, effective immediately this afternoon, but it just isn’t realistic. Is there really a Bruin fan out there who would want to hold off firing Steve Alford for 18 months or possibly longer while the new AD decides to evaluate Alford’s continued employment, just so that Dan Guerrero has no say in who replaces Alford permanently? I don’t think there is.

Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

The UCLA Bruins men’s basketball program has sunk so low that it requires either an immediate fix or a fix at the end of this season. Replacing Dan Guerrero as Athletic Director is something that Bruin fans will probably have to wait longer for.

Go Bruins.