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Managing Expectations: How Alford Can Save His Job

No one can argue Steve Alford's seat should be hot, the question is what should make it cool or lead to his firing?

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Bruins fans are still reeling from Saturday's loss to Stanford. This has caused a lot of talk about Jim Mora. Can Mora ever win a big game? Can Mora take UCLA to the next level? One thing is for sure, Mora is better than the last two coaches. Is that enough? Which brings me to Steve Alford. As of today, Alford is definitely not better than the last two coaches.

In his third season, Ben Howland took UCLA to the first of his three consecutive final fours. In his third season, Steve Lavin had just completed taking UCLA to three straight NCAA tournaments, including one elite eight and an overall 73% in percentage. Alford meanwhile has two Sweet 16s and one losing season with a 6-12 Pac-12 record.

Lavin, like Alford, did have a 6-12 Pac-10 season but was fired immediately after that in his seventh season. Lavin, like Alford, won the Pac-12 (in Alford's case it was the Pac-12 tournament) and had his best season first, with a team filled with veterans from the previous coach.

No one can argue that Steve Alford's seat is hot. If you disagree with that statement, please stop reading this post and reconsider calling yourself a UCLA fan.

But what does Alford need to do to keep his job? Well, I think all can agree that he should keep his job if he wins the NCAA Championship without scandal and he should lose it if he misses the NCAA tournament. But what about all the matters in between?

Ben Howland lost his job after winning the Pac-12 and losing in the round of 64 in the NCAA tournament despite losing his best defender and key starter, Jordan Adams, for the tournament. The first key take away here is there should be no excuses for Alford. Injuries happen and it is up to the coach to deal with them.

The second takeaway is more interesting. Howland had had some scandal with out of control players, problems with players transferring and difficulty recruiting locally. I think it is fair to say, Alford has done a good job retaining players (for example Prince Ali) and has had no Reeves Nelson type players. However, Howland also had three final fours while it can be argued that UCLA has become worse each year it has gotten away from Howland under Alford.

So what is enough for Alford to keep his job? Please add your comments below and vote in the poll. UCLA opens basketball practice this week and it is important that through the ups and downs of the season that we never lose sight of the fact that Alford's seat is hot . . . and should be.