The UCLA Basketball program finds itself on a precarious ledge at the moment. Is it a ledge the Bruins should back away from or is the correct answer to take the plunge?
The debate swirling in UCLA Basketball fan circles right now about Steve Alford’s future is really two distinct, but related debates. I think it is important to separate them and deal with them one at a time so that we aren’t yelling past one another. Those two questions are.
- Does Steve Alford deserve to get fired?
- Should UCLA fire Steve Alford?
There are rare cases where the answer to the first question is ‘no,’ but the answer to the second question is still ‘yes.’ But overwhelmingly, answering ‘yes’ to the first question is a necessary precondition to answering ‘yes’ to the second question.
I maintain that not only is the answer to the first question ‘yes,’ but that it is almost so definitively so as to be beyond reasonable discussion. Steve Alford has demonstrated repeatedly and consistently that he is not qualified to be the head basketball coach at UCLA, and there is no plausible future in which he ‘puts things together’ or finally aligns his scheme with the right players.
Does Steve Alford Deserve to Be Fired? – The Statistical Case
Let’s look at some statistics. (For these I am heavily indebted to David Woods of Bruin Report Online. He shared these states via Twitter throughout the season and then compiled them here and here after last week’s loss.)
Alford has a career win rate at UCLA of .672 (meaning he’s won 67.2% of his games). The only UCLA coach since 1948 with a lower win rate in his first five years was Walt Hazzard, who was fired after four years. This year, which Alford is on the record as calling ‘a very solid…very, very good’ year, the Bruins went 21-12, which is a win rate of .637.
Alford’s UCLA Basketball teams have appeared in the AP Top 25 (a decent measure of national relevance) just 33.3% of the time. That is, UCLA has spent twice as many weeks outside the Top 25 as in during Alford’s tenure. The only UCLA Basketball coach to have his teams appear less frequently since 1948 is Walt Hazzard, who, again, was fired after four years.
Alford’s UCLA teams have appeared in the AP Top 10 (a decent marker of an elite program) a mere 13.5% of the time. Again, only Walt Hazzard has a worse record in this regard since 1948.