However we got here, Steve Alford is the new head coach at UCLA, the school confirmed. Alford comes to Westwood from New Mexico, where he built New Mexico into one of the power programs in a depleted West and won four Mountain West titles in the last five years.
Alford has signed a seven-year contract that will pay him $2.6 million per season, according to Jeff Goodman. There is no word yet on who his assistants will be, but many reports indicated that UCLA wanted whoever they hired to keep Korey McCray on the staff so it is likely that he sticks around.
If nothing else, Alford should be a boon to recruiting. He is very popular among recruits and has a lot of good west coast relationships, especially in California. Ben Howland burned a lot of recruiting bridges in the state of California and the need for UCLA to repair those relationships had absolutely torched (seriously, it was that bad) cannot be underestimated. Alford does that, putting UCLA back in the room with a slew of top recruits who never even considered the Bruins before now.
Whether he can coach is up for debate -- he has been to the Sweet 16 just once -- but he is going to recruit. The resume leaves a lot to be desired and the label of "next great head coach" that was thrown upon him a decade ago never came to fruition, but he had New Mexico in a better place than UCLA was in under Howland (even if that is a low bar).
Did it take time for Alford to mature, so the New Mexico Alford that had the Lobos' arrow pointing up is the one that UCLA is getting? Is he the average head coach with a god of an agent who will never make good on the promise he showed when he took Southwest Missouri St. to the Sweet 16 in 1999? We'll find out.
Alford is not a sexy hire, but he is UCLA's new head coach and as of right now, he's a Bruin.
Welcome to Westwood, Steve Alford.