Call it underwhelming. Call it disappointing. Call it whatever you will.
But, on the 100th day of the school’s search for a replacement for Steve Alford, someone finally said “Yes!” to UCLA’s basketball search committee. As a result, the UCLA Bruins finally have a new head basketball coach this morning and it’s Mick Cronin, formerly of the Cincinnati Bearcats.
100 days and the best that Dan Guerrero and company could do is someone who’s been to the Sweet 16 once.
Well, he’s not Steve Alford, even if his tournament record is no better than Alford’s.
In a statement, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said:
Mick Cronin is a fierce competitor, and I’m excited to welcome him to Westwood. Mick has built a fantastic program at Cincinnati, backed by integrity and discipline, and he has instilled an undeniable toughness in his student-athletes. I am confident he will build this program the right way and lead UCLA basketball back to national prominence.
UCLA Chancellor Gene Block had this to say:
At UCLA, we expect our coaches to inspire student-athletes to strive for the very best in everything they do – during a game, in the classroom and out in the community. I have great hopes for Mick Cronin and am confident he understands our values of academic and athletic excellence, recognizing the very high bar set by Coach John Wooden.
The statement also quotes Cronin:
I am incredibly humbled and honored to become the head coach at UCLA. I’m especially grateful to Chancellor Block and to Dan Guerrero for this opportunity to join the Bruin Family. UCLA is a very special place with a strong tradition of excellence. To be able to join such a world-class institution is truly a privilege, and I can’t wait to get started in Westwood.
But the winner for the oddest quote of the day goes to search committee member Golden State Warriors GM Bob Myers:
Throughout what was a thorough and exhaustive search, those of us on the committee repeatedly discussed and emphasized the importance of bringing in a coach who really wants to be here. As a former player who knows firsthand how special it is to wear the four letters – UCLA – I am excited that we got a coach in Mick who wants to be a part of this historic program. I’m grateful to Dan Guerrero for allowing me this opportunity.
OK, well, we know that, by the end of Alford’s tenure he didn’t really want to be in Westwood any longer. But why exactly would the search committee emphasize “the importance of bringing in a coach who really wants to be here”?
Oh, yeah, maybe it has to do with the fact that the search committee did an awful job at attracting a more successful coach.
Let’s look a little more at Cronin’s career.
He’s been a head coach for 16 seasons. In his first three years at Murray State, his winning percentage was .742 and the Racers finished 2nd in the Ohio Valley Conference twice and won it once. They made the NCAA Tournament twice and lost in the first round both times.
In 2006, he took over at Cincinnati. During his first four years at his alma mater, they missed the NCAA Tournament each year, but made the CBI and the NIT once each. Since then, the Bearcats have made the Tournament in each of the last nine seasons. Four times, they made it to the second round and, four times, they lost in the first round. In 2011-12, the Bearcats made their only Sweet 16 under Cronin.
Under Cronin, the Bearcats had a .670 winning percentage.
While Bruin fans still have a reason to be upset over the way the search went down and the failure of the search committee to bring in a coach with more success, the bigger question is whether or not Cronin will be able to bring UCLA back to prominence.
In typical Dan Guerrero fashion, Cronin is being given plenty of time to do it as UCLA is giving Cronin a 6-year, $24 million contract, which is rather ridiculous given that there’s virtually no way that Guerrero plans to be at UCLA that long. The only thing such a long-term contract does is potentially commit UCLA and UCLA’s donors to be on the hook for bigger buyout in the event that Guerrero’s replacement decides a change is necesssary.
Well, I guess that’s one way to for Guerrero to cement his legacy as one of the worst athletic directors ever.
What are your thoughts on Cronin’s hiring? Sound off below.