You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.
Advertisement
File | Associated Press
You don't have to like the way he hung his Lobos out to dry after agreeing to (but apparently not yet signing) a 10-year extension, but the real issue here is whether or not he's actually making a step up.

Alford: Just the right fit

So another Hoosier icon is headed to the sideline at Pauley Pavilion, which you'd think everyone in L.A. would be ecstatic about, given how well the last Hoosier icon (John Wooden ring any bells?) worked out.

Alas, apparently not. Apparently UCLA's hiring of Steve Alford has provoked much Twittering and chattering the last few days that the Uclans under-bought, given the lofty stature of the program.

A guy who's been to only one Sweet Sixteen in 18 years as a Division I coach? A guy who just lost to, ahem, Harvard, for God's sake? How's he rate the UCLA job?

I'll tell you how: Because the job doesn't rate anymore.

Despite the contentions of its lost-in-the-past supporters (We're UCLA! Look at those 10 banners! We're one of the top jobs in the country!) UCLA is not, sorry, an elite program here in 2013. Ben Howland should have been canonized for getting it to three Final Fours in 10 years, not given his papers and shown the road.

The school's administration might have thought the likes of Brad Stevens, Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan would come running simply because it was UCLA, but if so it's as deluded as its fan base. Pitino and Donovan would have been declared mentally incompetent for even considering it. Ditto Stevens, who saw things clearly: UCLA might have its fading cache, but he's got just as good a chance to win at Butler these days as he does there.

And, yes, yes, it's L.A., it's in the heart of a rich vein of talent, blah-blah-blah. Fact is, recruiting is a national game now, and has been for years. Kids from that rich vein of homegrown talent are just as likely to wind up at Louisville, Florida, or, yes, even Butler now as wind up at the hometown school.

In that context, Alford going from New Mexico to UCLA is almost a sideways move at this point. He's a terrific basketball coach, the Harvard thing notwithstanding. You don't have to like the way he hung his Lobos out to dry after agreeing to (but apparently not yet signing) a 10-year extension, but the real issue here is whether or not he's actually making a step up.

Says here he only bought himself a ton of unrealistic expectations in return for the glitz of the big city and the UCLA name. But we'll see.

Ben Smith's blog.

Advertisement