UCLA Basketball: Ben Howland Could Be Fired Before End Of Season


With UCLA basketball struggling as much as it ever has since the days of John Wooden, Ben Howland’s seat has become scorching hot, with pressure rising after a maddening 19-win season last year, while the Bruins look like a middling Pac-12 squad so far this year.

And, much to the delight of UCLA hoops fans everywhere, it seems as if Howland’s days are officially numbered in Westwood. From Scout:

"UCLA is currently leaning toward replacing Ben Howland as its head basketball coach, and he could be let go before the end of the season, according to sources.There is also an indication that UCLA has taken preliminary steps in investigating potential coaching candidates."

The Bruins have not found much to work off of in the first 11 games of the season; for every blow-out win over Indiana State, there is a thriller in UCI or, more importantly, Cal Poly, waiting to happen. For every impressive UCLA performance, a teeth-gritting outing is sure to follow.

That’s how 2012-13 has gone and it’s how UCLA has performed, more or less, the past four years. Unless the Bruins win the Pac-12 tournament, it’s highly unlikely UCLA gets into the NCAA tournament and, sure, damn near sweeping the Pac-12 might help, but that’s implausible, considering the conference has become much more competitive, led by the efforts from Utah, Cal, Stanford and national title contender Arizona.

Context is everything though, and it’s important to remember that UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero is on the verge of being bumped out of Westwood. His contract expires this spring and thus, there’s an immense sense of urgency. More from Scout:

"Insiders have indicated that UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has taken a fairly hard line in his opinion of the state of the basketball program, and that he is expressing a strong sense of urgency to re-establish UCLA as one of the perennial powers in college basketball. The indication is that, if Howland is let go, Guerrero intends to aggressively pursue some of the top coaching candidates in the college basketball world."

That sense of urgency stems directly from his contract status. Much like an NBA hoopster plays out of his mind in his contract year to earn a huge contract elsewhere, Dan Guerrero is finally having a sense of urgency, if not to retain his gig at UCLA, then to set himself up as an attractive candidate for athletic director elsewhere.

Things are unfolding and we’ll finally get to see the future of UCLA athletics in the coming months. By next August, all programs might be looking a little different.