Chris Foster latest article in the Trojan Times completely misses the boat and would be journalism malpractice if Dan Guerrero was not UCLA's Athletic Director. The point of the article is summed up in the bolded sentence below:
UCLA was once prime real estate in the college basketball world. The Bruins have 11 national titles, 10 won by Coach John Wooden between 1964 and 1975.
But the program that Alford inherited last spring is middle-class. Upper-middle-class to be sure, but the Bruins no longer hobnob with the elite - Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina. . . .
Kansas also seems a cut above the Bruins, with more regional finals (12), Final Fours (eight) and national titles (two) since 1975.
The question I would ask of Foster: is Texas elite in Football? The reason I ask this question is when Coach Nick Saban of Alabama's agent was asked about the Texas job he said that was the one job in the country for which he would be interested. Everyone knows how this ended.
Texas pitched and Alabama gave Saban a big raise. Keep in mind UT is not currently one of the top teams in football. Not even close. They have been passed by Oklahoma and lately even Ok St and Baylor in their own conference, to say nothing of where they are in the nation. But the key is that despite being down now, they are still one of the top programs in the country. And it is that distinction that sets them apart from a school with much more recent success like Baylor, and allows a down Texas program to still attract the interest of the top coaches in the country like Saban.
How is this relevant to UCLA Basketball? Last season UCLA contacted Kansas Coach Bill Self's representative about coaching UCLA. Self's representative said he's interested.
The person who told me this is not from California but I had it confirmed from another source close to UCLA.
Now how many schools do you think Self would leave Kansas to go coach? I doubt it was many. I think ,like Saban, the list of schools he would leave the great thing he had going in Kansas was small. If UCLA was not the whole list it was one of three or so.
Now I will readily admit that Saban is the best coach in college football while Self is only top five in college basketball. But that is not the issue.
What did UCLA do about Self's interest? Answer: absolutely nothing.
Guerrero interviewed one of the few coaches arguably better in Brad Stevens and after he blew it was turned down by Stevens in part because of a low ball offer he went straight to Steve Alford.
Let's back up. Certainly the best young coach in America wanted, or at least was interested, in the UCLA job. He turned it down and went to the premiere job in pro-basketball (sorry Laker fans) the Boston Celtics. In other words, Stevens was leaving Butler for either the best name in college basketball or the best name in pro basketball.
So okay, let's give Guerrrero the benefit of the doubt. Let's say Steven's hated the weather, the tons of talent in Los Angeles, the new Pauley, etc. Let's say it was not Guerrero but something else that turned him off. Why not talk to Self? Why go straight to Alford?
Well Guerrero was embarrassed by the football coaching search. He was publicly turned down by Chris Petersen, Kevin Sumlin, AlGolden, and maybe Mike Belloti. He did not want that embarrassment again.
So we hired a middle class coach without even interviewing the Kansas Coach. I will readily admit, Self might have used UCLA to get more money out of Kansas just like Saban did at Alabama.
But did it hurt Texas at all that the best coach in college football would only consider leaving for them? Do you think the Texas AD is embarrassed right now?
So yeah, Self may have used UCLA against Kansas for more money but that would have been win-win. The coach from one of the top five college basketball programs in the history of the NCAA would leave his job only for UCLA. Instead, we have Alford and people like Foster can write that UCLA is middle class, excuse me, upper-middle class.
The program and its legacy will always be a draw. The 4 letters will always attract the Stevens and Selfs. It's Guerrero who is the weak link that lets coaches like them get away and keeps us mired in mediocrity. Mr. Guerrero this is not UCI, please don't try to make it another UC school. This is UCLA. People who understand college basketball like Bill Self and Brad Stevens get even if you don't.