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UCLA Basketball: Debunking The Excuses For Keeping Steve Alford

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Guerrero's "perfect fit" only demonstrates our athletic director's ineptitude.

Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

March 30, 2013. As Walter Cronkite would put it, "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times... all things are as they were then, and you were there." Here's what Dan Guerrero said in a statement that day:

Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA. He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood.

Yes, March 30, 2013 is the day the guy currently in charge of our basketball team matriculated to the UCLA campus. (For those who don't know, I cannot bring myself to use that person's name, nor can I use the word "coach" in connection with him. Hence, he will forever be "the guy currently in charge of our basketball team" to me.)

Has He Had Enough Time To Prove That He Is The "Perfect Fit"?

We have two years under our collective belts. I asked for the reasons why he should be given more time and the Bruins Nation responded with quite a few reasons. (I believe that each of these was offered in good faith. I invite discussion of each of these reasons, but the magic word is "because." Don't assume that your reader will agree that something is absurd just because you say it is. Explain why or you shouldn't bother commenting.)

1. He hasn't been given enough time to [insert what he wasn't given enough time to do].

2. Coach didn't have a championship season for his first seventeen years.

3. He didn't have a deep bench.

4. He has a great recruiting class coming in for next year.

5. He didn't have a true point guard.

6. Coaches get better over time.

7. He should get better athletes just because he's at UCLA.

8. The negativity hurts UCLA's ability to recruit good players.

9. You give a modern-day basketball coach 3 years.

10. He has taken the Bruins to the Sweet Sixteen two years in a row, which is something that better coaches haven't done.

11. He is highly competitive and passionate about basketball.

12. He's brave.

13. It's not his fault that he got hired when he wanted a job.

14. He's cut from the same cloth as Wooden.

15. He respects Wooden's history, loves the game of basketball, and is highly competitive.

16. Our teams look more organized.

17. A change of system has been instituted but isn't yet polished.

18. The games were, on the whole, more watchable.

19. We are not at 13 scholarships; we were at 7 scholarships.

20. Bringing in the 3 guys he's going to bring in with maybe a few blue chippers will change the appearance of the team.

21. Two Sweet 16s will make recruits realize that with their help he can string together another 2-4 past that.

22. He has grit.

23. 2 Sweet-16s buys him time - he needs to capitalize on the national attention and turn it into recruits.

24. He has shown he is somewhat of a good defensive coach. His use of the 3-2 zone was an effective use of our personnel, given the defensive M2M deficiencies of Bryce and long arms of Looney.

25. We have not yet seen what Alford can do with his ideal personnel/roster.

26. He has shown with enough talent, he can outcoach Sean Miller. He also beat SMU, a well-coached team.

27 He and his assistant seem to be good / better than any recent UCLA coach at developing their players.

28. He has a better record in his first two years than Coach Howland.

29. Firing a coach after two years and 2 Sweet Sixteen finishes would make future high-quality coaches think twice about the job.

30. He recruited Looney.

31. He turned Norman Powell into a #1/2 offensive option to replace Jordan's scoring.

32. He made Bryce a much better player, mostly in offense to replace scoring.

33. He significantly improved Tony Parker.

34. He ran a 3-2 zone.

35. And last, but not least, thanks to Floydo, "It's the hair."

Those are the reasons why he should have more time. It's now time for discussion of those.

How Has The "Perfect Fit" Worked Out?

Here is how the first two seasons under the "perfect fit" worked out. We started 2013 in fine style, winning 8 straight, six of those at Pauley in front of an average of 5,444 folks per game, and two on neutral courts. We finally played on the road and lost to Missouri. (Missouri finished 23-12, 9-9 in the SEC, then bowed out of the NIT after winning one game.) We lost on the road at Utah, at Oregon State, at Stanford and at Wazzou. Then we beat the number 13 and 12 seeds before losing in the Sweet Sixteen to Florida. So it was a meh season. We had one good win against Arizona to win the 2014 Pac-12 Tournament.

Inexplicably, that season earned him a contract extension. Only one person thought it was justified. Yep, the same person who described the guy currently in charge as a "perfect fit."

2014-2015 was more of the same. We beat four cupcakes, then we lost to Oklahoma and North Carolina. Four more cupcakes go down, and then we lost five in a row, including the debacle against Kentucky on national TV. I am happy to say I didn't watch that. After that game, no UCLA fan can honestly deny saying, or at least thinking, "Whew!" when we got that eighth point somewhere in the first half.

You know what happened after that. We beat the teams we were supposed to beat at home and lost the games we were supposed to lose. Our signature win for the season was a win against No. 11 Utah.

It was the "same old, same old" in the tournament: wins over a number 6 and a number 14 seed, then a loss in which we were totally overmatched when we played a team that was actually good. A 22-14 season. Another "meh."

I put together a table, based on winning percentage of all active coaches. I kept adding bits and pieces and it shows nothing really surprising. The guy currently in charge is a lifetime 2 out of 3 guy who is a perennial bridesmaid at the NCAA tournament. He is being paid more—much more—than his results would justify. You'll see that the guy currently in charge of our basketball program sits at No. 32 in winning percentage sits at No. 7 in Salary. You'll also see that each of the guys with higher salaries also have national championship trophies to display. You'll see plenty of things in this chart. (The guys listed in italics didn't have enough time in Division 1 to be included in the top winning percentages. If you include everyone, the guy in charge of our program has the 40th best winning percentage, but he still has the 7th highest salary.)

Coaches Ranked By Winning Percentage

Rank

Coach

School

Years

Won

Lost

%

Salary Rank (M) / Salary

NCAA results

1

Mark Few

Gonzaga

16

438

103

.810

36/$1.0

19-16, 0 FF, 0 NC

2

Roy Williams

North Carolina

27

750

202

.788

27/$1.7

65-23, 7 FF, 2 NC


Ray Harper

Western Kentucky

12

296

87

.773

1-2, 0 FF, 0 NC


Tim Cluess

Iona

9

216

77

.771

0-2, 0 FF, 0 NC

5

Mike Krzyzewski

Duke

40

1,018

310

.767

1/$9.7

88-26, 12 FF, 5 NC

6

Bo Ryan

Wisconsin

30

740

228

.764

16/$2.4

25-14, 2 FF, 0 NC

7

Thad Matta

Ohio State

15

401

125

.762

8/$3.3

24-13, 2 FF, 0 NC

8

John Calipari1

Kentucky

23

555

175

.760

3/$5.5

47-15, 6 FF, 1 NC

9

Bill Self

Kansas

22

559

183

.753

4/$5.0

37-16, 2 FF, 1 NC


Mike Dunlap

Loyola Marymount

15

332

113

.746



11

Dave Rose

BYU

10

257

88

.745

Est $1.0

4-8, 0 FF, 0 NC

12

Shaka Smart

VCU (to Texas)

6

165

56

.744

35/$1.2

7-5, 1 FF, 0 NC

13

Jim Boeheim

Syracuse

39

966

333

.744

30/$1.5

53-30, 4 FF, 1 NC

14

Rick Pitino

Louisville

29

720

250

.742

2/$5.8

53-18, 7 FF, 2 NC

15

Bruce Pearl

Auburn

19

477

165

.742

20/$2.2

10-8, 0 FF, 0 NC

16

Sean Miller

Arizona

11

283

99

.741

10/$2.6

17-8, 0 FF, 0 NC

17

Jamie Dixon

Pittsburgh

12

307

111

.734

15/$2.4

12-10, 0 FF, 0 NC

18

Larry Brown

SMU

10

246

95

.721

24/$1.9

19-7, 3 FF, 1 NC

19

Josh Pastner

Memphis

6

148

58

.718

9/$2.7

2-4, 0 FF, 0 NC

20

Greg Marshall

Wichita State

17

398

155

.715

32/$1.4

8-11, 1 FF, 0 NC

21

Tom Izzo

Michigan State

20

495

199

.713

6/$3.9

46-17, 7 FF, 1 NC

22

Bob Huggins2

West Virginia

32

765

312

.710

22/$2.0

29-21, 2 FF, 0 NC


Kim Anderson

Missouri

13

283

117

.708




Mike Maker

Marist

7

134

57

.701



25

Billy Donovan

Florida

21

502

206

.709

5/$3.9

35-12, 4 FF, 2 NC


Bob Walsh

Maine

10

207

90

.699



27

Kevin Ollie

Connecticut

3

72

33

.686

9/$3.0

6-0, 1 FF, 1 NC


Jim Hayford

Eastern Washington

16

320

147

.685

0-1, 0 FF, 0 NC


Mike Rhoades

Rice

11

209

96

.685

30

Tony Bennett

Virginia

9

205

97

.679

19/$2.3

6-5, 0 FF, 0 NC

31

Stew Morrill

Utah State

29

620

294

.678

Est $.30

1-9, 0 FF, 0 NC

32

Danny Kaspar3

Texas State

24

481

229

.677

Est $.27

0-1, 0 FF, 0 NC

33

Randy Bennett

St. Mary's (CA)

14

307

147

.676

52/$.39

3-5, 0 FF, 0 NC

34

Mike Lonergan4

George Washington

22

446

216

.674

Est $.50


35

Fred Hoiberg

Iowa State

5

115

56

.673

39/$.85

4-4, 0 FF, 0 NC

36

Tubby Smith

Texas Tech

24

538

263

.672

26/$1.8

30-16, 1 FF, 1 NC

37

Bruce Weber

Kansas State

17

375

193

.660

27/$1.7

11-10, 1 FF, 0 NC

38

John Thompson III

Georgetown

15

317

157

.669

25/$1.9

9-10, 1 FF, 0 NC

39

Mike Brey

Notre Dame

20

431

217

.665

45/$.57

9-12, 0 FF, 0 NC

40

Steve Alford5

UCLA

23

513

258

.665

7/$3.5

9-9, 0 FF, 0 NC

41

Mike Anderson

Arkansas

13

286

146

.662

20/$2.2

8-7, 0 FF, 0 NC

42

Rick Byrd6

Belmont

34

711

367

.659

47/$.52

0-7, 0 FF, 0 NC

43

Rick Barnes

Texas (to Tennessee)

28

604

314

.658

11/$2.6

21-22, 1 FF, 0 NC

44

Chris Mack

Xavier

6

134

71

.654

48/$.48

6-5, 0 FF, 0 NC

45

Keith Dambrot7

Akron

17

360

191

.653

Est $.40

0-3, 0 FF, 0 NC

46

Fran Dunphy

Temple

26

503

271

.650

46/$.54

3-15, 0 FF, 0 NC

47

Jay Wright

Villanova

21

441

237

.650

13/$2.5

14-12, 1 FF, 0 NC

48

David Paulsen8

Bucknell

20

396

214

.649

Est $.48

0-2, 0 FF, 0 NC

49

Matt Painter

Purdue

11

237

130

.646

17/$2.3

8-8, 0 FF, 0 NC


Jayson Gee

Longwood

9

179

100

.642



51

Kelvin Sampson9

Houston

25

511

291

.637

38/$.90

12-14, 0 FF, 0 NC

52

Randy Rahe

Weber State

9

182

104

.636

Est $.20

0-2, 0 FF, 0 NC

* *






79

Lon Kruger

Oklahoma

29

561

353

.614

20/$2.7

16-16, 1 FF, 0 NC

87

Tom Crean

Indiana

16

311

207

.600

18/$2.2

9-8, 1 FF, 0 NC


1. John Calipari's record is 635-178 (.781) according to http://www.sports-reference.com/cbb/coaches/john-calipari-1.html; however, his record is 593-176 (.771) according to http://fs.ncaa.org/Docs/stats/m_basketball_RB/2015/coaching.pdf, with 2014-2015 recorded (38-1) added in.
2. Includes 3 years at Walsh, an NAIA school (71-26 (.732)).
3. Includes 9 years at Incarnate Word, an NAIA school (219-52 (.808)).
4. Per his website, one of the reasons he was hired at George Washington was that he has had a 100% graduation rate. Record in D-I is 323-295 (.604).
5. Includes 4 years at Manchester, a D-III school (78-29 (.729)).
6. Includes 2 years at Maryville, 3 years at Lincoln Memorial (NAIA), and 10 years at Belmont when it was NAIA.
7. Includes 2 years at Tiffin and 2 years at Ashland (D-2) (combined 88-36 (.709).
8. Includes 3 years at St. Lawrence (D-3), 3 years at Le Moyne (D-2), and 8 years at Williams (D-2).
9. Includes 4 years at Montana Tech (73-45 (.619)).

Source: NCAA.org

Italics denotes coaches with five or more years coached but fewer than five years as a Division I head coach; includes record at four-year U.S. colleges only.

That source only goes through 2013-2014. Last year's results added in from various sources.

Salaries from various sources, including http://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/the-highest-paid-college-basketball-coaches/ as of 3-28-15

Not on the Celebrity Net Worth list were Bruce Pearl (shown at No. 20 of salary ranks), Larry Brown (shown at No. 24), Kevin Ollie (shown at No. 9), Stew Morrill, Danny Kaspar, Mike Lonergan, Tubby Smith (shown at No. 26), Bruce Weber (shown at No. 27), Mike Anderson (shown at No. 20), Keith Dambrot, David Pauleen, Kelvin Sampson (shown at No. 38) and Randy Rahe

Note: Salary information varies between sources, sometimes quite substantially.

So how about recruiting?

This was something that was supposed to be this guy's long suit, at least according to our athletic director. So his first year, he got PG Zach LaVine, F Noah Allen and PG Bryce Alford. We know how that turned out. It meant LaVine might have thought he was a point guard, but, in reality, he wasn't. No wonder LaVine bolted for the NBA at the first opportunity. In the second year, he got Jon Octeus, except for the fact that he didn't really get him because he was denied admission. Then he got Wannah Bail, but he didn't because he was academically ineligible. Now, Bail has, well, bailed. He did get Jonah Bolden, except Bolden couldn't play either. So of the three guys he actually had in his two recruiting classes, he had two, LaVine and his son, both of whom he played at the wrong positions, and one guy who basically rode the pine. And, of course, he had Kevon Looney, a guy who has now departed for the NBA. He might actually get plays designed for him in the NBA, which is something that he did not have at UCLA.

We're now at the place where we're waiting for that one more guy—the guy who can bring us back into elite status. His name is irrelevant. He's always "the one more guy who we need to get." We did that relatively recently, and his name was Shabazz Muhammad. The "waiting for one more guy" scenario is not one that I want to rely on.

What Does It All Mean?

What it means to me is that he should be fired NOW. TODAY. The guy currently in charge of our team is not the right person to be in charge, because we need a leader who is not a two out of three guy or whose pinnacle of success is reaching the Sweet Sixteen.

Notice...we haven't reached the character issue. That is an easy one. He should never have been hired in the first place and he shouldn't have been retained beyond his first press conference. In my view, the character issue trumps all others.

But all this leads to the last reason that was suggested for why the guy currently in charge should be retained—his replacement would be chosen by the most incompetent athletic director UCLA has ever had. My response to that is that we could get another Coach Mora. It's unlikely in the extreme that we would end up with someone worse than the guy we have now.

Our house is leaking and the wetness and dampness and mold threaten to topple what was once a magnificent edifice. We just tried to fix the problem with an $18 million dollar roof, but that fix didn't work and the roof still leaks. It's complete folly to think that the roof which has leaked continuously for the past two years will miraculously heal itself because there is no evidence at all, over the 20-plus year body of work amassed by this guy, that anything substantially different is going to happen in the future. It's time to tear the old roof off and replace it with a new one.