Putting a bow on it all.
3. Alford and his staff have amassed the third ranked recruiting class in the country, behind only Duke and Oregon. Retaining an unqualified coach solely to avoid losing recruits is short-sighted, and particularly so in basketball, where one-and-done and early NBA entry make for rapid roster turnover. The recruits you value that highly will be gone in a year or two, and you’re stuck with the coach you wanted to fire.
Conversely, losing a few recruits in a period of transition is a loss easily absorbed and weathered as the new coach brings in his own recruits. But there’s no guarantee that the administration and donors agree with that, and they may be loathe to pony up money just to torpedo a highly touted class.
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4. The most likely reason that UCLA would decide to retain Alford despite his manifest unfitness for the job is the sport-wide turmoil caused by the FBI probe into college basketball financial fraud. As pervasive as is the influence of agents and shoe companies at all points in the recruiting process, there’s no guarantee that any coach or program is immune. So any program hiring a new coach while this is going on has no idea what future penalties may be part of the deal.
Conversely, no coach looking to land an elite job wants to inherit a program soon to be riddled with penalties and probations. UCLA knows what skeletons lurk in the closets of the Morgan Center. They know that Adidas, the focus of the FBI investigation right now, helped to establish the connection between UCLA Basketball and the Compton Magic AAU team back when Adidas was the apparel provider for UCLA sports. They know that Compton Magic high school club team director Etop Udo-Ema was named as a contact by agent-turned-federal-witness Brandon Dawkins. They know that Compton Magic star TJ Leaf spurned Arizona late in the 2016 recruiting cycle and flipped to UCLA. They know that Ike Anigbogu, Jalen Hill, and Jaylen Hands are all Compton Magic alumni.
I have no way of knowing if under all that smoke there actually is a fire. But neither does a prospective candidate, and there’s enough there to scare away anyone who’s paying attention. UCLA knows this, and they may feel that they will be vindicated and/or the fervor will die down enough in a year to proceed in a not-so-mutually-suspicious environment. And if there is a fire causing all that smoke, then it will be convenient to have a scapegoat on hand, whom they have no qualms about firing, to appease the NCAA should it come to that.
So as strongly as I believe that Steve Alford does not belong coaching UCLA Basketball, I recognize that there are factors out there that are unknown to me that might make it worth UCLA’s while to retain him for one more year, as distasteful as I find that, in order to put the program in the best position to succeed after making the inevitable coaching change.