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UCLA Basketball: Two Sweet 16's Didn't Save Lavin; Shouldn't Save Alford

The numbers are really bad.

Steve Lavin was fired for a losing season after back to back sweet 16s, Alford's record is worse.
Steve Lavin was fired for a losing season after back to back sweet 16s, Alford's record is worse.
Nate Shron/Getty Images

Time to fire Steve Alford.  Let's look at the numbers against Just USC this season:

  • " USC's point total was its highest-ever in the rivalry, passing the 94 points it scored in an eight-point loss to UCLA in 1979.
  • " The 24-point margin of victory was USC's largest since a 28-point win in 1945.
  • " The Trojans' three wins against the Bruins this year came by a combined 57 points. They had not won two rivalry games by double digits since 1938.
  • " USC's average halftime lead in those three games was 16.

But but "Just SC is really good."  Ah no.  USC is 4-6 in its last 10 games.  Two of those wins are over UCLA.  The other one is over the last team UCLA beat, Colorado.  The fourth win was over Oregon State right after their second best player got hurt.  USC has lost those games by an average of 11 points, including a 20 point loss to a bad Stanford team.

Just SC is not good, UCLA is really bad.

USC had lost six of its last eight games entering the contest, but the convincing win should make selection Sunday less tense.

The Bruins (15-17) won only two games in February and March. They were the only Pac-12 team to lose to Washington State. Their losing record is the program's fourth since John Wooden became coach, in 1948.

USC hadn't defeated UCLA three times in a row in the same season since 1942. And so, in a buoyant postgame locker room, on the whiteboard, someone scrawled two items.

On top: 1942.

Below: 3-0.

Of course the moronic UCLA hater Bill Plaschke says Alford can't be fired:

Alford is clearly taking the blame here, and good for him. But he's not getting fired because of this, nor should he be fired. Fans are understandably furious, there's even been petitions calling for Alford's ouster, but among UCLA's adminisration his job security is not even a serious question. His previous two seasons, consecutive Sweet 16 appearances matched by only four other teams during that time, have earned him the benefit of the doubt that he can figure this out.

Alford has gone from 28 wins, first place and a sweet 16, 22 wins barely making the tournament and a sweet 16, to 15 wins (3 losses to USC) and tenth place.  Even Plaschke has to admit there are some issues:

But make no mistake. That benefit ends after next season. Just ask the last UCLA coach to not reach the NCAA tournament, in 2012. Ben Howland had the Bruins back in the tournament the next season, but they were blown out by Minnesota in the first round and he was blown out of Westwood soon thereafter.

Let's talk about Howland for a second.  Howland's first three years were the exact opposite of Alford's.

  • 11-17 (seventh place)
  • 18-11 (third place, NCAA round of 64)
  • 32-7 (first place, NCAA runner up)

The trend line under Alford is the exact opposite.

Let's talk about the coach before Howland to get fired and a more relevant example.  Steve Lavin's last three seasons before he was fired:

  • 2000-01  23-9 (third place, Sweet 16, PAC 10 Coach of the year)
  • 2001-02 21-12 (sixth place, Sweet 16)
  • 2002-03 10-19 (sixth place) FIRED

The trend line matches.  Gee, UCLA and Dan Guerrero can fire a coach who just went to two Sweet 16s.  Lavin's conference record was similar to Alford's his last three years.  Including barely getting into the tournament but going to the Sweet 16 the season before he was fired.  However, Lavin had an elite eight on his resume and a string of tournament appearances.

So no the sweet 16s should not save Steve Alford.  FIRE ALFORD now.