Aor 2, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero speaks at a press conference to announce the hiring of Steve Alford (not pictured) as mens basketball coach at Pauley Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, To Like Or Not To Like?

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Let us say that UCLA is in a bit of an upswing right now. Go ahead, you CAN say it. And you have UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero to thank for that. Yes indeed, he is responsible for the hiring of successful coaches like Amanda Cromwell, John Savage, Steve Alford and Jim Mora that have made their respective teams contenders. He has also over seen the renovation of Pauley Pavilion, the current revitalization of Drake Stadium and got the ball rolling for new football and basketball practice facilities. You cannot deny this is progress. And if you do, why? The proof is there. Guerrero is a damn fine Athletic Director.

Guerrero was recently named the 2013-14 Under Armor Athletic Director of the Year, but even that could not quiet the grumblings in his own fan base. It is understandable to feel that way as a fan when you have the two revenue sports, football and basketball, head straight into an abyss… but that time has passed. Despite making improvements in the revenue sports, as well as the overall status of UCLA Athletics in the last few years, Guerrero is still a very much hated.

But should’t improvement be worth anything for judging a person and/or their performance? Sure, it does not equal championships, but leading your programs in the direction of those championships says a hell of a lot. At an institution like UCLA, hanging banners is the goal… which, by the way, UCLA did twice this season with Women’s Soccer and Women’s Tennis.

Guerrero was hired in April 2002 and in his time, UCLA has won 23 national championships. Would this elate any fan base? Of course, but not at UCLA. Guerrero still gets the heat from overly sensitive individuals that take to calling him names. These are not fifth graders, these are adults mind you. But why? He is a successful AD. There is no doubt that he made several mistakes, but he has improved on that in several areas. Let us take a look at a few:

Football – Hired and fired Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel in his tenure. Hiring a third football coach was not good for Guerrero’s status, but look at what the decision has done. The newest hire, Jim Mora, is preparing his team for one of the biggest seasons in recent memory, in only his third year in charge. And you know what, everyone loves him because he has improved everything from recruiting to development to the team’s overall attitude. I do not think any Bruin fan would trade Mora for any other coach. You have Guerrero to thank for that.

Aor 2, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins athletic director Dan Guerrero (left) presents Steve Alford with a No. 13 jersey at a press conference to announce Alford

Basketball – The reception was the same (or worse, depending on who you ask) as another no-name coach was hired, this time to take over the legendary Bruin basketball program. Because Alford’s past and his contract left many fans scratching their heads, several called for Guerrero’s. But look what the new coach has done in his first year: 8-0 to start the year (only UCLA basketball coach to do that in his first year), won the Pac-12 Championship Tournament, returned the Bruins to the Sweet 16, landed the #3 recruiting class and had three players taken in the first round of the NBA Draft. Anywhere else, that would be seen as successful.

Women’s Soccer – Guerrero hired Amanda Cromwell out of the University of Central Florida just over 15 months ago. What did she do in her first season? Led the Bruins to their first National Championship in her first year as coach.

Baseball – Sure it took John Savage a few years to get the baseball program going, but since being hired in 2005, the Bruins have had several College World Series appearances, which was topped off with a dominant National Championship run in 2013.

We can go into every single sport at UCLA, but we do not need to. The point is that Guerrero has shifted things in the Athletic department for the better. Why many cannot see that unknown. The vitriol was understood a few years ago when both basketball and football were irrelevant, but that is no more. Sure, Guerrero might make mistakes in the future (he is human after all), but right now improvements have been made. Like it or not, Dan Guerrero is doing a bang up job at UCLA, the school that leads the NCAA in National Championships.

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  • Steve W

    I’m not sure if he deserves this much praise, but he’s certainly doing a much better job than the idiots at Bruinsnation says- I get so sick of reading the immature attacks levied against him and Steve Alford. Overall this was a good article!

  • Woochifer

    Guerrero’s tenure has been a mixed bag. Certainly not the dumpster fire that the clowns at Bruinsnation claim. IMO, BN has become more like a political blog than a fan site. All they care about is their agenda of the moment, and they will manufacture the facts to fit that agenda. I hardly regard them as Bruin fans, given that the site admins don’t attend games, donate, and in some cases even bother to watch Bruin games.

    But, to anyone who likes to take shots at Guerrero, just compare his tenure with Sandy Barbour’s at Cal. For years, some Bruin fans (primarily the ones who frequent Bruinsnation) would point to her hiring of Jeff Tedford and the stadium renovation and Cal’s on-field success, and wonder why Guerrero can’t get anything right. Problem is that Barbour ran the department’s finances into the ground. Say what you will, but Guerrero has run a tight fiscal ship. Since Barbour took over, Cal athletics has been outspending UCLA, yet they take in less revenue.

    Barbour greenlit the stadium renovation project with less than 5% of funds pledged and took out 40-year bonds that would be paid back by premium seat sales. Problem is that the seat sales have fallen way short of projection, and the athletic department had already been running in the red and pissing off the academic side by getting annual bailouts from the admins. If not for the new TV money, Cal athletics would be in a world of trouble. But, from a competitive standpoint, they already are, because they no longer have discretionary funds available to pay competitive salaries to their coaches.

    While Guerrero’s critics blasted him for not starting the Pauley renovation sooner, the timing actually worked out. Because he waited until more of the original budget was pledged before greenlighting the project, the construction costs actually came in close to $80 million (?) under budget when the recession hit. This meant that the project had close to half the costs already pledged up front, so no risky financing schemes or seat licenses were needed. When the Pac-12 TV money came in, Guerrero put it to work. Salary bumps for Savage, and Mora and his staff. Drake Stadium renovation underway. Facility upgrades for football and basketball soon underway. Guerrero did not recklessly spend money the department didn’t have, even though a vocal segment of the fanbase was calling for him to throw money around on hires and facilities.

  • Woochifer

    And I’m surprised that the article didn’t mention Ben Howland. Steve Lavin had a rocky relationship with former AD Pete Dalis (and who could blame him, given that Dalis was talking to Rick Pitino behind Lavin’s back). Even after Guerrero fired him, Lavin made a point to say that Guerrero treated him fairly.

    Even though Howland’s tenure had a less-than-glorious ending, he was the hottest coaching prospect in the country at the time he was hired, having just won national coach of the year awards at Pitt. And once he arrived in Westwood, he rebuilt the program to elite status and had that run of three straight Final Fours. Guerrero pulled the trigger on the hire at a time when Howland could have gone anywhere.

    Also, when Al Scates retired as VB coach, Guerrero immediately turned to Bruin alum John Speraw who’d won 2 of the last 3 national championships at UCI. Again, Guerrero wasted no time and hired the top coaching prospect.

    So, for all of his faults, Guerrero does deserve more credit than he often gets.