UCLA Introduces Steve Alford

Report: Steve Alford’s contract with UCLA has a massive buyout

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UCLA fans better get on board with Steve Alford as the head coach of their program, because he’s going to be there for a long time.

Yes, he signed a seven-year deal with $18.2 million, but the length and value of a contract does little to dissuade a coach to leave for a longer, more valuable contract should one arise.

The reason that Alford will be locked in at UCLA for the longterm, per a report from the LA Times, is that he’s got an unusually high buyout clause in his contract: if he leaves UCLA before April 30th, 2016 — when he would complete his third year on the job — Alford would have to pay the school a buyout of four times him annual salary, or $10.4 million. If he leaves before four years are complete, his buyout will be $7.8 million. After five years, it is $5.2 million and if he leaves before finishing six years on the job, that number drops all the way to $2.6 million.

Perhaps what makes this buyout all the more surprising is the mirror provision in the contract, meaning that if UCLA decides to fire Alford, they’ll be on the hook for the same buyout structure.

What that means is that Alford will, in all likelihood, be in Westwood for at least five years, and possibly six, making guaranteed money. I don’t care how poorly things are going, I find it tough to believe that UCLA would shell out more than $5 million just to make a coaching change. That’s risky, as it creates little incentive for winning. Alford is going to be getting paid regardless of how well his team performs, and even if they’re at the bottom of the Pac-12 standings throughout his tenure, he’s going to play out the majority of his contract.

Now most coaches are wired as competitors with dogged work ethics; that’s just how you have to be to survive at the high-major level.

The good news is that this guarantees consistency; Alford can recruit and build his program with recruits knowing that he’ll likely be there throughout their college career.

But if anything happens to go wrong, Alford and UCLA are stuck with each other for the long haul.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 14 West Virginia takes care of No. 15 Baylor

West Virginia forward Devin Williams (41) dunks the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor, Saturday, Feb, 6, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
AP Photo/Raymond Thompson
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Not exactly noted for their ability to knock down shots from the perimeter, No. 14 West Virginia grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big 12 thanks in part to their perimeter shooting. The Mountaineers shot 7-for-14 from three and 49.1 percent from the field in a 80-69 win over No. 15 Baylor that wasn’t as close as the final margin would lead one to believe.

Bob Huggins’ team led by as much as 19 in the second half, and the way in which they did it is what makes the win so impressive. “Press Virginia” yielded just ten Baylor turnovers, but that low number didn’t matter much thanks to West Virginia’s execution offensively.

They found quality looks against Baylor’s 1-1-3 zone in the first half and made them at a good clip, forcing Scott Drew to switch to man-to-man. That change didn’t do much to slow down West Virginia either, as Daxter Miles Jr. scored 20 points and sixth man Jaysean Paige added 17 off the bench. And with Devin Williams chipping in with 16 points and seven boards in the post, outplaying Baylor’s Rico Gathers Sr. (five points, seven rebounds), West Virginia grabbed control of the game in the first half and did not relinquish it.

The usual formula for West Virginia offensively is to attack the offensive glass, as their offensive rebounding percentage (43 percent) is tops in the country. “Their best offense is a missed shot” is a familiar refrain heard when people discuss the Mountaineers, who entered the game shooting just over 30 percent from three.

They didn’t need to lean on those second chances as heavily as they normally do Saturday night, not only because of the improved accuracy but also the improved work in finding shots. The ball moved against the Baylor defense and so did the players, resulting in an offensive attack that proved tougher for the visiting Bears to stop that one would expect given the statistics entering the game.

West Virginia was already established as a contender in the Big 12, but thanks to their win Saturday night the Mountaineers are the current pace setters. With a showdown at No. 7 Kansas set for Tuesday night, this was a big win for Bob Huggins’ team to get. And with it coming in spite of a low turnover (forced) count, this should only help West Virginia in the confidence department moving forward.

No. 22 Indiana falls at Penn State

Penn State's Shep Garner (33) moves towards the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Indiana in State College, Pa., Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
(AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)
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Brendan Taylor scored 24 points to lead Penn State to a 68-63 upset of No. 22 Indiana on Saturday night.

The Nittany Lions were 2-8 in Big Ten play entering the weekend. Indiana? They were 9-1 and tied for first in the conference. It’s the second loss in four games for the Hoosiers following a 7-0 start to Big Ten play, a fact made all the more concerning by the fact that their league schedule is finally about to get difficult.

The Hoosiers play No. 5 Iowa at home and No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing next week. The following week they get No. 18 Purdue at home. In the final week of the regular season, Indiana squares off with No. 5 Iowa on the road and close the regular season with a visit from No. 4 Maryland.

That’s a lot of good teams that the Hoosiers to close out the year.

The question has been asked since Indiana’s hot start to league play: Are they for real? Did the Hoosiers really somehow turn things around defensively, or was that winning streak simply a by-product of their schedule?

The truth is that it was probably a combination of both. Calling them a fraud would be unjust — if you watched those games, there wasn’t much fluky about them; Indiana earned the Ws — but it does seem fair to say this is something of a regression to the mean.

They were going to slip up eventually.

And it will totally be forgotten if the Hoosiers can find a way to close the regular season with a winning record in their final seven games.