Not The UCLA Way
With Howland gone, it was a chance for UCLA to build themselves back up and make a huge splash with a big time hire. The names that were swirling around the chat rooms and water coolers were a who’s who of basketball masterminds. Butler’s Brad Steven’s, VCU’s Shaka Smart and Florida’s Billy Donovan were all hot commodities at the time and did not seem out of reach for a school like UCLA to land any of them. And then they hired Steve Alford.
Unless fans were deeply rooted in college basketball knowledge, it was not likely that most Bruins fans knew who Alford was or where he came from. At the time in 2013, Alford had made his New Mexico squad competitive… in the Mountain West Conference. Though he won four regular season titles, he did not once get past the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Even in his previous stop at Iowa (a Power 5 conference team), he did not make it to the Sweet 16.
On top of that, his troubled past at Iowa came up rather quickly at the start of his tenure in Westwood. At Iowa, Alford continually defended one of his players, Pierre Pierce, who was arrested for felony sexual assault. Shortly after being hired, Alford was asked if Wooden would have handled the Pierce case any differently. His response was not Wooden-like.
"That was an incident that happened years ago at the University of Iowa and all I can tell you with that situation is I followed everything that the University of Iowa, the administration, the lawyers that were hired, I did everything I was supposed to do at the University of Iowa in that situation. I followed everything that I was told to do."
So UCLA, which had just fired a successful coach for the regression of the program and his attitude (it was well known that he was not a “players-coach” and had rubbed a lot of people the wrong way including several high-end donors), hired a coach that did not have a great post-season resume and was not exactly coming off as a “good guy”. But all of that aside, he was Dan Guerrero’s choice to lead this program back to national prominence.
Five years later, UCLA is back to where they began. Probably a little worse off.