Usually this time of year I write a news roundup talking about our upcoming NCAA tournament game. Right now the story is about the banner: "UCLA Deserves Better! Fire Alford!" The contrast is similar between the national and local media covering UCLA.
First, the morons in the national press covering this story, using CBS as an example.
Yes, fans have reason to be mad after USC swept UCLA with three wins in a single season for the first time since 1942. Fans have a reason to be mad that a team that beat Kentucky, Gonzaga and Arizona ended up 15-17 and out of the tournament after three-straight Sweet 16 appearances.
But that's the thing, Alford not only has a pretty good postseason record with UCLA but also one of the best recruiting classes in the nation coming in next season featuring two five-stars (Lorenzo Ball, T.J. Leaf). There's no way UCLA would take the financial risks necessary to make a move and also risk losing one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Where to start? Uhm, in three years Alford has NOT made the tourney three straight times, only twice and last year he barely made the tournament. Second, the Ball brothers are coming to UCLA regardless of the coach. Third, Class of 66 explains that while the contract is an obstacle, it is not that big an obstacle.
But maybe the worst part is the article makes it sound like this is a problem of a couple weeks. Jack Wang over at Inside UCLA does a much better job of explaining things:
This is not the first outcry that Alford has seen since joining the Bruins. Almost immediately after he was hired, he enraged many in and around the university by refusing to apologize for his past handling of Pierre Pierce's sexual assault case at Iowa. A petition calling for his firing launched late this season has collected more than 1,500 signatures.
Although Alford made two Sweet 16 runs before missing the NCAA Tournament this year, he also did so with a number of NBA-bound players he did not recruit. His hopes of a turnaround rest largely on a top-five incoming recruiting class, which includes five-star prospects Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf.
Like Zach Hefland, Jack Wang has been following UCLA for years and, unlike the national media, understands that calling this an off-season, or the more ridiculous Steve Alford saying this was a good season but a bad PAC 12, doesn't pass the smell or basic journalism test.
There shouldn't be much dispute about this, but Steve Alford emphasized this week that the Bruins shouldn't be dinged for a "bad season" only for a bad two-and-a-half months. But given that the whole season only lasts about four months, this seems like a case of splitting hairs.
Most coaches should be granted leeway for the occasional bad season. It's the timing of this season as as well as the way it unfolded that should cause concern about the viability of the Alford era. Yes, he reached the Sweet 16 twice, but had the benefit of inheriting a number of future NBA players. This season featured a roster almost entirely of his own design. Despite that, this team saved its worst basketball for last, losing its last five games by an average of nearly 12 points.. . .
How hot is Steve Alford's seat? It's certainly not going to be comfortable. UCLA is missing out on March Madness during a year that the Pac-12 earned a record seven bids including one for USC, which is appearing in an NCAA Tournament that doesn't include the Bruins for the first time since 1985.
There's no good way to spin that. If UCLA misses the field for a second straight year, Alford will certainly be gone. On the other hand, it's difficult to see the Bruins dismissing him if he wins the conference and/or makes a Sweet 16 run.
And that Ladies and Gentleman is the rub. Steve Alford will have the most talent in the PAC 12 next season. Depending on how Ball develops this is a nationally elite team on talent. I am not sure anyone believes he will get the most of the team with problem number one being the minutes of un-athletic disinterested-on-defense but good three shooting combo guard.
The guys who regularly cover UCLA like Jack Wang and Zach Hefland see the problem.
The question is will UCLA fans keep up the pressure or be happy with a team led by a mediocre nepotistic coach? Will an underachieving team be acceptable if that team makes the tournament most years? I think most fans are fed up. Hopefully they will let Dan Guerrero know or better yet make his seat hot.
#Fire Steve Alford.