UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland is not a bad coach. In fact, he is a pretty good coach who just happened to miss two out of the last three NCAA Tournaments. But UCLA isn’t any other program, it is where John Wooden coached, they don’t want to be just okay, they want to be battling for National Titles every year. To be honest, Howland has to look at what the athletic department has done in the past, to gauge just how steaming the hot seat he rests his rear on is.
Look at Steve Lavin. Lavin took the Bruins to four Sweet Sixteens, an Elite Eight, only missed the tournament once, and he was run out of town. One down year cost Lavin his job and he took the Bruins deep in the tournament nearly every year. Howland needs to be concerned.
Then there are those expectations placed on him because of something he did well, recruiting. Howland lured top prospects Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson to come play for him. This is a win in every way except helping temper down UCLA fans’ expectations. Soon as it was announced that the Bruins landed these two phenoms, the word on the street was Final Four or bust.
Howland must be confused hearing all the talk of his demise unless he goes to the Final Four. He has had a great run at UCLA. Two Final Four runs are nothing to laugh at but, as usual per UCLA, the last one of those was in 2008, as in far to long for UCLA to be absent from the Final Four.
If Howland fails to reach the Final Four most people expect him to be gone. While I am in the “Good Coaches Don’t Grow on Magical Trees” category, I can see why UCLA would do so. Their athletic department set the bar years ago when they fired Lavin despite his dominance there. He was let go because of their national title aspirations. Howland is faltering far worse than Lavin had. So it only makes sense that UCLA’s unrealistic expectations just get another man canned.
UCLA, this is who you are, more unrealistic that John Goodman trying to be a spokesman for a weight-loss company. And you’re about to let ANOTHER good coach go in your quest to be something that doesn’t exist anymore, the John Wooden UCLA Bruins.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports who primarily covers the Catholic Seven. For the love of Sam Cassell, follow Joe on the Twitter Machine @JosephNardone