On Sunday, we did a post about a column from Bill Plaschke of the LA Times on Ben Howland and how, regardless of what this UCLA team does in the NCAA tournament, he may have worn out his welcome in Westwood.
On Tuesday, the LA Times again wrote about Howland’s job status and how no one — not Howland, that the UCLA AD, not anyone — around the program will discuss it.
Asked Sunday how important it was to the program for UCLA to perform well in this year’s NCAA tournament, Howland said, “I think you should contact Dan.”
Asked how important the tournament was for him, he said, “Contact Dan. I am not going to make any comment.”
Dan is Dan Guerrero, UCLA’s athletic director, and attempts to contact him Monday were unsuccessful.
Guerrero has publicly offered only brief comment on Howland’s job security. In February, he declined to discuss the situation in detail because he said there was “a lot of season left to play.” However, he did say that with the nation’s No. 2 recruiting class, “there were high expectations when the season began. Those expectations remain high. The coaches know that, the assistant coaches know that and the players know that.”
Let’s assume Howland’s gone after this season. This is where things get interesting.
The USC job is currently open, and Jamie Dixon is a Southern California native that has had his named linked with the opening. If Dixon leaves, would Howland head back to Pittsburgh, a place where expectations are a bit lower and where his grind-it-out, blue-collar brand of basketball would be accepted? And if Howland does leave for Pitt, that means that, all of a sudden, one of college basketball’s six best jobs is suddenly available.
Is that enough to sway Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart to leave their cushy outposts? Both Stevens and Smart have families, young kids and a job where they will never be fired, are constantly getting their programs moved to better leagues, and make millions. Are they going to move to the other side of the country to coach at a program where you can make three Final Fours in a decade and be fired?
Would it be enough to convince Mark Few to leave Gonzaga? What if the Zags make the Final Four, will he feel like he’s reached the pinnacle of where that program can go?
Let’s assume all three of those guys say no.
UCLA is one of the blue bloods. Who do they go out and get?
More importantly, UCLA, who do you want them to go out and hire?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.