March 30th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

They weren't choosing between Howland and Alford.  They chose to fire Howland (probably a few months ago), and then, with him gone, chose Alford.  It's not like you can fire a guy, realize there's no one good out there, and call for a do-over.  

Whether Alford will do well, I don't know.  But they had clearly made the determination that Howland wasn't the guy to go forward.  If that SI article was correct, he sounded like a guy letting the inmates run the asylum.




March 30th, 2013 at 1:34 PM ^

Clearly they had made up their mind on Howland (otherwise firing a guy for winning his conference is kind of nuts), but that doesn't change the perception situation (i.e. you're replacing Howland with Alford).  As such, I think Alford could have a really short honeymoon, especially if the folks across town get things going in the right direction.

Unless Alford comes in and blows the doors off success-wise, it looks like a potentially ugly situation.


March 30th, 2013 at 8:17 PM ^

Winning the PAC-12 this year is like being the the skinniest kid at fat camp, not exactly something to hang your hat on. Otherwise the program was in bad shape, there were probably only going to be 7 scholarship players next year with the Wear twins the only post options and no point guard. There was really no argument to keep him around, no matter the "accomplishment" of winning a bad conference with two likely lottery picks.

Cali Wolverine

March 30th, 2013 at 1:51 PM ^

Myopic UCLA fans/admin (similar to Notre Dame in football) thought they could hire their pick of hot young coaches...and were completely in disbelief that Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens would actually stay at VCU or Butler over UCLA. I think it is funny, but USC may actually have a better basketball coach next year than UCLA when all is said and done.

San Diego Mick

March 30th, 2013 at 1:33 PM ^

Howland might have been deserving of getting fired for losing control of his program, if indeed true.

But they fire a guy who had good success in the tourney (3 Final Four's) and hire a guy who has never been past the round of 32. I'm not sure this was a good hire, seems a bit hasty, there had to be a bunch of guys out there better suited for this job.

Eh, it's UCLA, fuck them anyway!


March 30th, 2013 at 1:37 PM ^

Alford did make the Sweet 16 back in '99 when he was at Southwest Missouri State.  Hasn't been back since though.

As for other options, I think UCLA thought they would be able to steal a coach from a place like Butler or VCU without much trouble, only to be thwarted in their efforts.  At that point there aren't a lot of options demonstrably better than Alford, who is also young, seems like an okay recruiter, and is used to being in the spotlight more than some of the folks who may not be ready for the non-basketball portion of the job.


March 30th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

Well I doubt he thought the most prestigious program would come calling. And I can't blame him for leaving for a better job. But at the same time, he could stay at New Mexico and maked the tournament every other year and have job security for life. I wouldn't pass that up if I were him.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:41 PM ^

If I'm an AD of a mid major, I go into my coaching hires thinking that if I made a great hire, I'll have to make another one in 4-5 years. That's just the food chain in college spots. I don't think you can ask what you think he should because the list will be: big pay raise, high major facilities, high major budget, etc etc. UCLA, despite their recent "struggles" is still a destination job. For every Stevens and Smart there's about 10 Dan Monsons, Bruce Pearls, Dana Altmans etc etc. you give the extension to show how much you want him to stay, but that can only go so far in big time collegiate sports when more money and prestige come calling.


March 30th, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

I don't think he is as bad as some people make him out to be, but man, he is not an upgrade over what they had. This seems like a "change for the sake of change" hire. And those don't usually work out. I think Alford will maintain the status quo, but that's it.


March 30th, 2013 at 8:08 PM ^

Anyone was an upgrade over Howland at this point. The noise was getting overwhelming, the SI article was bad, retention was out of control and getting worse, and Howland could not recruit Southern California anymore. This meme if unreal expectations is bullshit, neither Howland or Lavin were fired until it was clear they had cratered the program. Alford's not a great hire, but if he can do what he did at New Mexico and get the program off of life support then he'll be fine.


March 30th, 2013 at 12:04 PM ^

Alford is a great hire if the Muhammad recruitment doesn't blow up in UCLA's faces.  Then again, even if the NCAA does start to fully investigate UCLA, it is looking like the NCAA could self-destruct before they have time to really nuke anyone else.  

They violated their own rules when they nuked PSU, and now in the investigation of Miami.  I am still hoping the "big boys" stop pretending that a multi-billion dollar business is "amateur" and start their own athletic association.  

Alford did an impressive job at New Mexico.  We laugh at Bobby Knight, but the man definitely knew how to coach, and he is a pretty good "ancestor" to have in one's coaching "bloodline."  If UCLA can stay elgible and with a full compliment of schollies, Alford could get them back to the top.  


March 30th, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

He did a good job at New Mexico, but that should be one of the top 2-3 programs in the Mountain West now that Utah's gone. Great facilities, great fan support, and a history of putting guys into the NBA. He also cratered a solid Iowa program. Maybe he's learned, but no one at Iowa has anything good to say about him.

steve sharik

March 30th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

If you're going to get rid of Coach A, you'd better be 100% sure Coach B is a) better than Coach A and b) promised to take the job.


If there's a University AD 101 class out there, I'd be willing to bet UCLA and UNM would be case studies on how not to hire/fire coaches.


March 30th, 2013 at 12:51 PM ^

Alford is a pretty good coach but he's clearly a notch below the really elite coaches like Roy Williams, Izzo, Self, Coach K, Pitino etc. Can't imagine that he is the sort of coach who would get fans excited and his resume is no better than Howland's. It's UCLA and the PAC12 is pretty weak right now so I wouldn't be surprised if they turn in a bunch of 25 win seasons but I also have a hard time imagining them becoming a perennial top 5 team like Duke.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:00 PM ^

I don't know how good a hire this is, but comparing his résumé to Howland's is missing the point a little.  Howland was ripped to shreds by that SI article back in the fall and the UCLA fanbase abandoned him.  At that point he was a dead man walking.  They were going to hire a new coach barring a miracle NCAA run.  

The question is more whether Alford's résumé compares favorably to the other guys out there willing to take the job.





March 30th, 2013 at 1:25 PM ^

To some extent that is true as you have to have the support of the fans or it doesn't really work. But the A.D. also has to ask himself who is the better coach too. If you've fired a guy and you hire someone who is not any better then either your hiring process is flawed or you overestimated the attractiveness of the job or both. And you've released the current fan/media pressure but you haven't upgraded the program. Alford certainly lost the Iowa fanbase himself which is why he had to jump to NM. Certainly the job is a pretty good one but UCLA fans think that the job is the pinnacle of college basketball coaching based on some stuff that happened 40-50 years ago. They haven't figured out that the playing field is much more level and things like facilities, budgets, $, fan support etc matter too and UCLA. And this hire is not going to make the Bruin alums/boosters happy at all. He has no particular UCLA ties and this looks like settling rather than making a splashy hire. The fanbase will not be in love with him from day 1 by any means.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:56 PM ^

He probably needed to go. I just think the two will always be linked and compared and so if you are the AD you better make sure that Alford is a guy who will (and has) gotten it done. If they don't make the tourney it will be "At least Howland got to the tourney before losing to MN" or if they don't make the Final Four it will be "Even freaking Howland made the Final Four 3 times" etc. It's only natural to compare the two and the AD needs the guy he hired to look better. Not convinced that Alford will come out looking better than Howland in 5 years...but we'll see. And I think if Howland needs to go because the fans are not behind him after this article etc then why are you hiring a guy who will also not make your fanbase excited?


March 30th, 2013 at 1:11 PM ^

Alford is a decent coach, but not a great one. He also doesn't seem the best person, judging from some profanity he yelled at BYU forward Jonathan Tavernari after a game a few years ago.

He seems to me like a good recruiter but not a great coach, which I have to think is the opposite of what UCLA needs right now.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:21 PM ^

UCLA is not the basketball job it used to be. So u are not going to get the big names or the hot names to go (brad steven, shaka smart). So why not hire the guy that wants the job and also has proven to be a pretty decent job.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:45 PM ^

Alford's career arc has already been interesting (rapid rise to high Division I, drop to "mid-major" with some success) for someone who's still south of 50. I wouldn't be surprised to see him fail at UCLA and wind up coaching some MAC school to close out his career.


March 30th, 2013 at 1:54 PM ^

It is also hard to judge a coach at a place where the standards are pretty nutty.  Steve Lavin made the Sweet 16 in five of seven seasons (with one Elite Eight in there) but is viewed as a bum.  Howland made three Final Fours (with one title game appearance in there) and won the conference four times in ten seasons, but just got fired.  Harrick won a national title, made two other deep tourney runs, and won three conference titles in eight seasons, but plenty of folks were happy to run him out of town over a minor NCAA snafu after the early exit against Princeton. 

If recent history is relevant, Alford could win a ton of games and still be considered a failure if he doesn't measure up to the Wooden myth.


March 30th, 2013 at 2:32 PM ^

Was thinking about it after some of the "Bill Self is a vacant moron" talk last night coming on the heels of talking to a bunch of seemingly disgruntled KU fans in Vegas a week ago. 

Self has won at least a share of NINE!!!! straight conference titles.  He's won the conference tournament six times in that span.  He's made it at least to the Sweet 16 in six of the last seven seasons, which includes a national title and an appearance in the championship game.  The national POY hit a 30 foot three to force OT and knock his team out of the tourney.  And folks are dissatisfied with the results and/or think the dude is underachieving.  It is almost as bad as hearing how many more national titles Wooden would have won if he just called a timeout every once in a while (seriously, I've had this discussion on more than one occasion).

You just can't win with some people.


March 30th, 2013 at 3:30 PM ^

I'm not sure there's a fan base with shorter (or more warped) memories than KU. Check out the history:

In particular, check out the Dick Harp ('56 to '64) and Ted Owens ('64 to '83) eras. One Final 4 for the former, two for the latter, and a smattering of conference championships over 27 years ... there are some Jayhawk fans who think Kansas went to the Final 4 every other year before Self.

Aside: Larry Brown, a master self-promoter in addition to being a good coach, made that program relevant again.

Even Roy Williams (journalism's favorite coach of all time) had his four trips to the semifinals spread out over fifteen years, with no championships. Nothing to sneeze at, but more than a few coaches could do that in a crappy conference, with frequent #1 seeds (see: crappy conference) and with Kemper Arena the site of approximately 93% of their tourney games.

Self has had some tourney flame-outs with low seeds, but he has always recruited well and I think Kansas should be happy with him overall.

Section 1

March 30th, 2013 at 1:55 PM ^

Usually when a coach gets a new, big-money extension, it does two things.  First is that it rewards the coach for recent success and gives him longer-term stability with a raise.  Second, it usually contains a bigger buyout clause to ward off competing bidders for the coach's talent.

So; what does UCLA have to pay to UNM, to begin paying Alford?

And when does UNM start bidding for Andy Enfield?