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UCLA’s Athletic Department Is Late to Speculate on Ben Howland

Jason O. Watson – USA Today Sports Images

Apparently not even the loyal UCLA athletic department can tolerate the Bruins falling short on the court anymore. Bruin Report Online reported Thursday that athletic director Dan Guerrero is leaning towards firing Ben Howland and replacing him as head coach with a high-profile candidate.

A day later, it’s going to still dominate talk around the program because it’s the first time many of us have heard the athletic department waver in their support of Howland. All I can say is what took them so long?

The last two years have been a disgrace for UCLA fans. While many of them have called for Howland’s job, the athletic director had publicly stood by him. So now, they want support because they’ve added their voice to the chorus? Not so fast.

Maybe they wised up seeing what Jim Mora did in his first year with the football program. Maybe they imagined bringing in a player’s coach who’ll not only restore UCLA back to prominence but not alienate his players. Maybe Guerrero is trying to save his own job considering he’s been under fire the last few years.

What do I think? I think it’s confirming that the UCLA athletic department can no longer be blinded by three Final Fours that are fading further into memory. The only shock here is that it took them two years to finally consider life after Howland because they’ve stood by him when many fans and boosters have turned their back.

The timing of this is also suspect. Why leak this news as the team is on a three-game winning streak and preparing for a game Saturday? It should’ve been put out when the team was struggling, not when they’ve been appearing as good as they have all year.

Considering I’ve called for Howland’s job as well, I guess I should be happier. But it’s nothing really earth-shattering except the athletic department finally coming around to reality. All this announcement does is give more support to the theory I’ve had since the season began. If UCLA does not reach the Sweet 16 or at least look good losing in the second round, Howland’s time in Westwood will be over.