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UCLA AD Dan Guerrero Gets an F for Football Coach Hires, Other Fall Grades

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Dan Guerrero is not paid to hire qualified coaches. That is lucky for him.

I got this close to a 2 point. Yippee.
I got this close to a 2 point. Yippee.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I work on the quarter system. Here are Doughnut's grades for the fall term, as judged by quality (or lack thereof) hires.

A couple of ground rules, before we jump in. First, these are my rules. Please feel free to quibble.

Second, these grades cover the period from his hire in April 2002 (a month which will live in infamy) to the present.

Third, if a coach who he inherited wins national titles and is generally at the top of his or her game, this does not count in Doughnut's favor. All Doughnut has to do in that case is make sure to give the coach a new key if he changes the locks. That is not praiseworthy for an AD pulling down over $700K. On the other hand, if Doughnut does not change coaches after an extended period of mediocrity, he gets dinged. Malign neglect should not be tolerated.

Fourth, we are not grading on a curve, and there are no hard and fast rules. However, in general, a Doughnut hire has to win a national title for Doughnut to receive an A grade. If we had a ski team competing in the NCAA's, I would cut some slack because we have obvious disadvantages in terms of location. But in every sport in which we compete (and for which Doughnut therefore makes hires) we don't have any such disadvantages, in terms of location or the standing of the university. I would also relax the standard for football- we wouldn't need to win the national title, but in that case it is Rose Bowl or equivalent for an A.

Fifth, context matters. If Doughnut inherits a coach who has developed the best program in the country, winning multiple national titles, then it is not enough for the coach Doughnut hires as successor to win a national title with the predecessor's players, and then have the program fall off the table. Doughnut would not get an A in that instance, because the program will have fallen under his watch. On the other hand, if Doughnut's hire inherits a program which has never won a national title, then winning the national title is that much more impressive, and the A grade will be warranted (John Savage is the poster coach in this regard).

Along the way, I will point out how many national titles in each sport we have won with coaches who Doughnut inherited vs. how many we have won with coaches who Doughnut hired. Doughnut's bio, not surprisingly, commingles these.

We will present these in order of the season concluding. Again, this is for fall sports only. We will provide winter and spring term grades when those seasons wrap up.

Men's Cross Country-  F.  Forest Braden just completed his sixth season as the head cross country coach for men's and women's. UCLA lumps the two teams together for website purposes, but they compete separately in the conference and NCAA meets, so we will provide two grades. Braden comes from Boise State, as does Mike Maynard, who is UCLA's Director of Track/Cross Country. It is certainly possible that Doughnut did not directly hire Braden. The conversation would have gone as follows-

Maynard- "Do you have a candidate in mind for cross country?"

Doughnut- "FYI- we have a cross country team?"

Maynard- "Yes. Do you want to conduct a coaching search?"

Doughnut- "FYI- what is a coaching search?"

Maynard- "Okay. I guess I will just bring my guy from Boise State."

Either way, whether Doughnut hired Braden or not, we have had zero success in this sport. The high water mark so far for Braden is a 13th place finish in 2012.

Before Braden's hire, the cross country coach was Eric Peterson. The Bruins did not accomplish much under his watch. So with Doughnut, we have a mediocre program before, and a mediocre program after. This grade is easy.

Women's Cross Country- F. Basically the same story as the Men's team, except the Women's team under Braden's tutelage has not even broken the top 20 in the past six years. This grade is also easy.

Men's Water Polo- A. This grade jumped as a result of this year's national championship. Adam Wright just completed his sixth season as UCLA's head coach. In that time, the Bruins have reached the championship game four times, including this year's title. Wright succeeded Adam Krikorian, who was already the head coach when Doughnut arrived. Krikorian had phenomenal success on the women's side after 2002, but his Men's teams only earned one title after 2002 before he left to coach the USA women's team. One title for Wright in six seasons. One title (in 2004) for Krikorian in seven seasons. Krikorian earned more national titles for Doughnut than any other coach, but they were on the women's side. So Wright's record stands up well in comparison. And this leads to an A grade.

In terms of national titles, that makes the score   Doughnut's hires 1, Doughnut's inherited coaches 1

Women's Soccer- A.  This grade reflects the 2013 national championship, and the continued success of the Women's team in 2014. When Doughnut arrived, Jillian Ellis was the head coach. She took numerous teams to the College Cup, but was never able to win a title. She left in 2010 to take a job with USA Soccer at the national level. Doughnut's first hire was a promotion from within, B.J. Snow, who was the head coach for two years. Snow was succeeded in 2013 by Amanda Cromwell, a hire from without (head coach at Central Florida) whose teams have been phenomenal. She has a two year record of 43-2-5, and a national title. Doughnut's hire has upped the standard for this program big time. This is another easy grade.

The national title score becomes   Doughnut's hires 2, Doughnut's inherited coaches 1

Men's Soccer- C. This may seem harsh, after we lost on penalty kicks less than a week ago for the national title. But again, this grade reflects the entire body of work for Doughnut's hire. When Doughnut arrived, the head coach was Tom Fitzgerald. He was hired a month before Doughnut, so he is an inherited coach. And in his first year (2002), the Bruins won the national title. Doughnut must have realized right then that he was in his dream job. Three months into his first full season, and he gets to put a national title on his bio without having anything to do with the hiring decision. Nice. Fitzgerald left before the 2004 season to return to University of Tampa, to be closer to his family. So Doughnut had a hiring decision to make, to replace a coach who had led the Bruins to a national title. He promoted Jorge Salcedo from within. And in the 11 years of Salcedo's tenure as head coach, the Bruins have three College Cup appearances and zero national titles. It is not a question of talent. This year, the Bruins were seeded #2 and reached the finals. No problem there. In 2013, the Bruins were seeded #1 and got bounced in the 3rd round. In 2012, the Bruins were seeded #6 and got bounced in the 2nd round. In 2008, the Bruins were ranked #11 in the country and lost in the first round. There is definitely a pattern here. Salcedo is no doubt a great recruiter. But his teams don't finish the deal. Close but no cigar results in a C grade.

The national title score is now     Doughnut's hires 2, Doughnut's inherited coaches 2

Women's Volleyball- B.  This grade was not as easy to determine. Michael Sealy just completed his fifth season as head coach. He succeeded Andy Banachowski, the winningest coach in NCAA Women's Volleyball history. Banachowski coached UCLA for 43 (!) seasons. But his teams won no national titles while Doughnut was AD. Sealy's 2011 team won the national title. This earned Doughnut an A grade for this hire until this year. But since 2011, the program seems to have gone downhill. In 2012, the Bruins lost in the second round of the tourney. In 2013, the Bruins did not make the tourney. This year, the Bruins made a very predictable exit in the sweet 16. So, for whatever reason, Sealy has not been able to capitalize on the 2011 team's success. I could see a one year dip. But a three year dip? Sealy has had a solid run as Doughnut's hire, but it seems overly generous to give an A grade to a program which has not advanced past the third round in the last three years. So a B it is.

The national title score is now   Doughnut's hires 3, Doughnut's inherited coaches 2.  Please understand- I would love to see tons of national titles from Doughnut's hires. It is just that the facts tell a different story.

Football- F. I don't need to wait for the Alamo Bowl result to assign this grade. Our last Rose Bowl was after the 1998 season. Again, Doughnut arrived in April 2002. On his watch, the Bruins have a combined record under coaches Bob Toledo (who he inherited), Karl Dorrell, Rick Neuheisel and Jim Mora of 92-72, which is a 56% winning percentage. Converting this to a 13 game season (in recognition of our ability to reach 2nd and 3rd rate bowl games), the average record on Doughnut's watch is 7-6. The combined conference record during Doughnut' reign of error is 59-54, for a winning percentage of 52%. This is an average record of 4.7-4.3 for a nine game conference schedule. Feel free to round this to 5-4 if that makes you feel better. It is that average 5-4 mark which leads to the following litany of bowl games (in chronological order) on Doughnut's watch- Las Vegas, Silicon Valley, Las Vegas, Sun, Emerald, Las Vegas, none, EagleBank, none, Kraft Fight Hunger, Holiday, Sun, Alamo. I understand that plenty of fans see Jim Mora turning a corner. But he is turning a corner from the abysmal record of other Doughnut hires. And if a student has earned an F grade, you don't raise it to a D because the student might do really well next year. If and when Mora leads to a team to a premier bowl game, the grade will go up. But until then, it is wait and see. And winning the Alamo Bowl doesn't count as doing really well. With our recruiting advantages, we should not be trotting out 7-6 teams and never appear in prestige games. This is an F.

Three F's, one C, one B, two A's. The combined GPA-   1.86.   Doughnut is hereby put on double secret probation.

This grade point is calculated using the theory embodied in the Director's Cup, which is the objective measure in Doughnut's contract to measure overall success. All sports are treated equal.

The Capital One Cup, in contrast, acknowledges that some sports attract more interest and also more teams. Therefore success in those sports should be more heavily weighted. If we assign double weights to the "big" sports per Capital One (soccer, women's volleyball and football) and single weights to the "small" sports per Capital One (cross country, men's water polo), Doughnut's GPA becomes 2.00.  I suppose this takes him off double secret probation, but it is hardly the result you would hope to see from the highest paid AD in the conference.

Please feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the grades. Anybody who thinks the GPA should be 4.00 should expect significant blowback. Actually, I would love to see the rationale for a 4.00. And whoever makes that comment, we will have to presume it is actually Doughnut or Block under an assumed name. Only the Blockero could see Doughnut's hiring results for fall sports as an unblemished success.

Next up in the series- winter term, including women's swimming, basketball, and women's gymnastics. A quick sneak preview, without even knowing the final outcome of men's basketball- TIARA's hire will not merit an A. I want to focus on the fall sports, so let's not spoil our dinner by discussing TIARA in comments for this post. Thanks.