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UCLA Bruins Coach Steve Alford to ESPN: “I am absolutely 100 percent not going to Indiana.”

ESPN reporter Jeff Goodman was given an unequivocal denial about Alford’s interest in the IU job.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs UCLA
“What’s a guy got to do to impress Fred Glass?”
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman tweeted this out:

Now, he says that?

Never mind for a moment that this is a guy who left New Mexico after reaching an agreement on an extension there.

But, he hasn’t said that since the job opened up last week. He could have said this last week and prevented a lot of speculation that came from his failure to say those words until now.

Of course, it could be that Indiana has cooled to the idea of him as their head coach. After all, many in the greater IU community have been extremely vocal about not wanting Alford as their head coach for the same exact reasons that many UCLA fans have wanted him out of Westwood since he was hired.

Part of it is the Pierre Pierce incident at Iowa. Part of it is his utter inability to get past the Sweet 16. Part of it is because he has proven himself to be an absolutely mediocre coach.

I will say this, though.

Assuming that Alford is true to his word and, given his departure from New Mexico that’s a big if, then Dan Guerrero should look at Alford’s results in whole and reach the same conclusion that Indiana reached about Tom Crean because he is not capable of taking UCLA to the Elite Eight, much less the Final Four.

Let’s look at this based on the criteria we set here on December 26th. We wrote then and re-iterate now the same criteria. In that article, we wrote:

Going undefeated during non-conference play is nice. It is certainly the way to start an elite season. But the key is to finish strong. If Steve Alford cannot win the Pac-12 OR get UCLA to the Elite Eight, then he should be fired at the conclusion of this season.

So, let’s evaluate Alford by that criteria. While we tried to be specific as possible, we did not specify whether he needed to win the Pac-12 regular season title, the Pac-12 Tournament or both. Regardless, he did not win either. The other requirement was getting UCLA to the Elite Eight.

Tonight, he failed at that, too.

We take absolutely no pleasure in the fact that Alford has failed at UCLA.

Let me say that again for the sunshine and roses crowd....We take absolutely no pleasure in the fact that Alford has failed at UCLA.

Frankly, he should have never been hired in the first place for all the same reasons that the good folks at Indiana are saying, but, most importantly, because he has never coached a team to an elite status.

Let me spell this out for all the Alford apologists and national media who think that Bruin fans are under the illusion that UCLA should win the title every year. That’s not true. But, at the same time, we do expect that our coach will lead our team to an elite level. That means winning the Pac-12 Conference regular season title. It means winning the Pac-12 Tournament. It means making it to the Elite Eight. We don’t expect it every year. But, when you’ve been in Westwood for four years and have yet to accomplish any of those things, especially with the talent level on this year’s team, there is a problem with the leadership of the program.

Despite all that, Dan Guerrero should not call Steve Alford into his office on Monday or Tuesday and give him his walking papers. He needs to be smart about this. He needs to allow Steve Alford to think that his job at UCLA is safe. But, the moment Indiana announces a replacement for Tom Crean whose last name is not Alford, Dan Guerrero should pull the plug because, unlike Arizona, UCLA does not celebrate Sweet 16 appearances.

And, goodness gracious sake’s alive, for the love of the Four Letters, he cannot reward this crash-and-burn the Guerrero Way...with a contract extension.

Go Bruins.