Nov 30, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Jim Mora (right) celebrates with athletic director Dan Guerrero at the end of the game against the Southern California Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Athletics: Is Athletic Director Dan Guerrero Off The Hot Seat?


 

Two years ago, if you said the name Dan Guerrero anywhere near Westwood, the reaction, more often than not, may have been presented with a scornful look. The response itself would not have been none too kind, either. Recently, that sentiment has changed as success has found its way back to the Athletic Department.

Guerrero was hired to run the Athletic Department at UCLA in April 2002. Under his guidance, the Bruins have won 23 National Championships, the most of any school during his time in charge (just over 10 ½ years). He has overseen the renovation of several UCLA facilities, which include Easton Softball Stadium, Spieker Aquatic Center and world famous, Pauley Pavilion.

With all these improvements at a university that has the most NCAA Championships in the Nation (110), why would Guerrero have to worry about his job status?

In summation, he was not getting the revenue or the support for basketball and football, the aptly named “revenue sports”. The two biggest draws for UCLA had become stale, unimpressive and it all came down on Guerrero.

In his time here, he has had to fire two football coaches that he hired himself. Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel, who are undoubtedly great guys, drove the once mighty UCLA Football team straight into obscurity and it could not have happened at a worse time. While UCLA was down all those years, crosstown rival, USC, was not just up on the Bruins, they were the toast of college football, winning two national championships during the Dorrell/Neuheisel years. One was later vacated, hehehe.

Things had gotten a bit out of hand with the basketball program as well. Former coach, Ben Howland, who went 233-107 at his time in Westwood while also going to three straight Final Fours from the 2005-06 to 2007-08 seasons, had lost control of this once prestigious spot. Failing to continue success, sour relations with players and a vivid Sports Illustrated expose ultimately lead to his firing by Guerrero after another first round NCAA basketball tournament exit.

The two biggest sports at UCLA were being spotlighted by their inefficient leadership, from the coaches, all the way up to Guerrero.

The latest blunder that fell upon Guerrero was the unpopular hire of an unproven coach that was not Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, Billy Donovan or Rick Pitino. No, it was Steve Alford out of New Mexico. To make things worse, his history at the University of Iowa did not please the Bruin faithful either.

Still, Guerrero hung in there and made choices that are seemingly going in the right direction.

Last spring, UCLA won their first College World Series and their first baseball championship under John Savage. Other colleges came knocking to see if they could lure away Savage, specifically, USC. Guerrero handled it, as the kids say, “like a boss”. A pay raise and an extension through 2025 kept Savage in Blue and Gold.

In January of this year, Women’s Soccer lost their head coach to US Soccer. Needing to fill the position, UCLA hired UCF coach Amanda Cromwell to take over the Women’s soccer team. Last Sunday, they won their first championship ever with Cromwell capturing the title in her first season in leadership. For UCLA under Guerrero, that was Championship #110.

Two weeks ago, UCLA wrapped up their regular season with a throttling of USC, 35-14. They retained head coach Jim Mora after Washington came calling and gave him an extension. With that, Mora was able to keep line coach Adrian Klemm (who USC was trying to hire) and snagged Trojan hero, Kennedy Polamalu, to be the new running backs coach. There was a guarantee to start the groundwork on a football facility. Oh yeah, to top it off, UCLA got commitments from two 4-star recruits this week adding to the total of six 4-stars for next season.

Moving to basketball, aside from the unpopular hire of Alford, he started the season 8-0, which was the first time a first-year UCLA basketball had done that. They are currently 8-1 with a heartbreak loss at Missouri, but that pain was eased when 4-star power forward, Jonah Bolden, committed to the Bruins basketball team a few days later. This was the fourth commitment Alford got as 5-star Kevon Looney and centers Gyorgy Goloman and Thomas Welsh have given their pledge to be Bruins.

Wow.

The complaints from Bruin fans have subsided due to these positive steps into the future. Guerrero has messed up in the past, which has stuck with UCLA fans, but these current events cannot be ignored. The #BruinRevolution, the moniker for UCLA Football, can indeed be a call for all Bruin sports. Things are happening now that is setting up success for the not-too-distant future and that cannot be denied. Football fans feel good. Basketball fans are coming around and the recent success with Baseball and Women’s Soccer is bringing in more attention to an Athletic Department that seemed inept at times.

Maybe Guerrero knew what he was doing all along. Maybe not, but at least he is trying to right the ship. Let us see how he gets it done.

Mike W.R.

Twitter: @TheBigDisco

Tags: Featured Popular UCLA Bruins

  • SJT

    What a load of bollocks. Guerrero and his staff don’t publicize properly, don’t do enough to get students to games, don’t promote, create scheduling catastrophes (Texas football where next year? and why no subsequent home game?), don’t seem to care when our women’s teams get shafted (tourney basketball with Gonzaga at Gonzaga, soccer getting a second seed and not a peep from Guerrero), tried to cheat students out of their seats at Pauley Under Glass, and then hires a new basketball coach without vetting him, leading to attendance at Pauley which is, frankly, embarrassing.

    How about that search for a new football coach? Sure, we lucked out. But only because Jim Mora came to Guerrero and Guerrero had already exhausted Plan A and had no Plan B.

    Steve Lavin? Karl Dorrell?

    Our teams do well in spite of Guerrero and the huge staff he purports to administer. How much better would athletics perform if he were gone?

    We’ll never know because he’s got Block buffaloed. And, apparently, you too.

    As a 1967 grad I remember athletic excellence throughout the program. And an AD who cared and a Chancellor and Vice Chancellor who were engaged. Those days are gone.

    • Bruinning.

      Steve Lavin? You are aware that Guerrero didn’t hire him right?

  • ZBruin13

    Guerrero has done a few good things, but has not done enough to merit him not being off the hot seat. The Coaches Mora and Savage hires have been some of the best in school history, but let’s not forget that the Coach Mora hire was not really Guerrero actively finding a diamond in the rough, but rather lucked out with Coach Mora approaching him first. Basketball has been mostly a nightmare under the Guerrero the past 5 years. Howland was kept on 3 years too many, and while the jury is still out on Coach Alford, UCLA should have been able to hire a coach like Buzz Williams or Gregg Marshall, who have had considerable post-season success, something that both Howland was having trouble with during his last years at UCLA and what Coach Alford has had throughout his career. Giving the credit to Guerrero for leading the Bruin Revolution is also ridiculous. Give that credit where credit is due, and that is to Coach Mora. Coach Mora has brought excitement back to UCLA athletics and that is now beginning to carry over to all of the other sports. The Pauley renovation was WAY overdue and Guerrero dragged his feet for too long on that, and when we finally got our shiny new stadium, tried to screw the students over in a COLLEGE basketball stadium. Guerrero too often forgets that students are the lifeblood of college sports, and are the future donors, and caters WAY too much to current alum (who many have publicly stated that they would rather have more opportunities for students in the stadiums). UCLA Athletics has sorely lacked any effective marketing of our various sports teams under Guerrero for years, and has been utterly pathetic at showing off our success. There was barely ever any note of when games were happening while I was still in school, and too many students were unaware of when our teams were doing well. Guerrero is responsible for this and when he should be having his marketing department drape the campus and internet with the success of UCLA athletics, we get barely anything. Pathetic. Yes, Guerrero has done a few commendable things, like keeping Coach Mora, Savage, and hiring Coach Cromwell, but overall he has too many negative things to ever be off the hotseat. In fact, I believe that all of these positive things he’s done is only BECAUSE he’s been on the hotseat and the only way to ensure he keeps it up, we as alum and students turn up the heat even more.

    It is unfortunate that this blog takes such an overly positive picture of UCLA athletics on EVERYTHING and does not acknowledge the problems we face. This blog seems to think UCLA Athletics are perfect, and they’re far from that. It’s sad that UCLA doesn’t have a good fan blog to cover our sports. On one hand we have the clowns at Bruinsnation who believe that UCLA athletics are being ruined with every day and have the most negativity I’ve ever seen, and on one hand we have you guys who refuse to recognize some of the major problems we face and look at everything with rose colored glasses.

  • ZBruin13

    Also, it’s “Neuheisel”, not “Neuheisal”. Use that UCLA education please and spell names correctly, especially for good Bruins like Neuheisel.

  • Biglar

    So because Mora approached Guerrero, rather than Guerrero having to recruit Mora, Guerrero gets no credit for the hire? You guys have been paying attention to the hyperbolic morons at BruinsNation for waaaaay too long. Any idea how many coaches chase the job when an opening like UCLA arises? Tons. And Mora wasn’t the consensus choice by any measure; his candidacy kind of came out of nowhere. And if I’m not mistaken, (and I’m not) the cries of “terrible choice” were everywhere when Mora was hired. Guerrero should get just credit for the Mora hire, just as he gets demerits for the hires of Dorrell and Neuheisel.

    Likewise, he gets marked down slightly for keeping Howland around too long, though he had a good run early, and the Alford hire didn’t start off great, though I think the jury is still out on Alford. He does seem to be recruiting well and beating the patsies we lost to with distressing regularity under Howland. If Alford is successful, all the jokes calling him “TRA” will slowly peter out, and another justification for why Guerrero shouldn’t get the credit will arise.

    Besides winning all those championships, UCLA also won the Men’s Capital One cup last year, and the women are currently leading their bracket this year. So the results on the field are good.

    Of course, the issues with poor marketing are valid and they need to be fixed. And the ham-handed way Pauley renovations and student seating was handled was unfortunate. But these can and will be addressed. I think the biggest challenge for DG is in making sure the revenues from the major sports keep flowing (thank you Larry Scott), and that the school’s academic departments keep getting major donations from alums excited by the success of the football and basketball programs, and that of the other sports.

    • bru68

      You are so right about Bruin Fans and especially the fools on Bruin Nation. Nobody can have an opinion that is different from Nestor, Tydides and the rest of the clowns. I pointed out the same hyprocrisy on BN and off course they can dish out the criticism but can’t take it. Kicked me off BN but were nice enough to continue to let me read BN. The comments about the Mora hire and Guerrero hiring him was a joke. Mora was run out of town before he even came here and now its all good until its not all good. I pointed out to Nestor what would have happend if the Bruins would have lost to SC and that was the final straw with him. The same clowns that were bashing the Mora hire two years ago are his biggest supporters now, well except Tydides off course. He’s never happy!!!

  • maze949

    Stumbled upon this article and site, from B*tch Nation (courtesy of a link which Murshed “Nestor” Zaheed promptly removed). Not really sure why the self-proclaimed “Voice of the Bruins” should be worried about a little ‘upstart’ like GJB, but maybe he feels like he’s losing his grip on the minions.