Well, the Steve Alford hire at UCLA on Saturday morning became the biggest sports headline in a flash.
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Nobody saw this coming. Alford had recently signed a 10-year extension at New Mexico. His son was set to come in and play as a Lobo. In recent gossip about the UCLA job, I couldn't count Alford's name coming up once since he signed the new deal. But so much for that.
A hiring at a top-10 school/job like UCLA will spur a lot of immediate reaction and opinion. I wanted to give you a glimpse of what a lot of people are saying about the hire. It is somewhat split. My thoughts, in short: it's not an upgrade from Howland. Did Ben have to go? I think so. But there's not much divergence of personality here. If anything, there's now a lowered bar of expectation, really. Alford is 5-7 in the NCAA tournament, hasn't reached a Sweet 16 in 14 years and isn't cozy with the media.
I think he can and will have some success, but I ultimately believe he'll be gone in less than seven years and UCLA won't be upped in prestige or profile when he leaves. I also don't think he takes it to a Final Four. And I think the fact the past two UCLA coaches, Steve Lavin and Howland, getting fired for making three Final Fours and eight regional semifinal appearances clashes with the philosophy to hire this man.
Thoughts from around the country:
Alford isn't a great hire for UCLA - but UCLA tried to hire greatness, and greatness said no.— Gregg Doyel (@GreggDoyelCBS) March 30, 2013
Steve Alford will be fine at UCLA, I think. But I bet the school never thought it would hire a man with a 5-7 record in the NCAA Tournament.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 30, 2013
Well then... UCLA hires someone no one expects, but he can certainly recruit West Coast. Weren't going to get perfect guy. Got good option.— John Templon (@nybuckets) March 30, 2013
Guerrero: Steve embodies everything we are looking for in a head coach. He's passionate, dedicated, experienced and enthusiastic.— UCLA Athletics (@UCLAAthletics) March 30, 2013
BREAKING: Steve Alford is already on the hot seat at UCLA for a lack of postseason success.— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 30, 2013
That's an...interesting hire by UCLA. Steve Alford? Fire Ben Howland with 3 Final Fours, hire guy who lost as a 3-seed to Harvard. OK, UCLA.— Brendan Prunty (@BrendanPrunty) March 30, 2013
Last 17 years at UCLA: 13 NCAAs, 1 Nat'l runner-up, 2 Final Fours, 1 Elite 8, 4 Sweet 16s. 7 Conf titles. Both coaches fired. What a place.— Brendan Prunty (@BrendanPrunty) March 30, 2013
Steve Alford also takes his son, Bryce, a big-time recruit, with him to UCLA. Bruins could be good next season depending on who stays.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) March 30, 2013
I actually think this is a solid hire. Steve Alford is a terrific coach. But I doubt UCLA fans will view it that way after the Harvard loss.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 30, 2013
Little over a week after signing a 10-year extension at New Mexico Steve Alford leaves for UCLA. Should be an interesting press conference.— Rush the Court (@rushthecourt) March 30, 2013
i just wanna see the list, so i can see the names between brad stevens and the dude who lost to harvard last week.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 30, 2013
keep in mind alford's tournament resumé the last six years matches john thompson iii's. jeez, who is alford's agent? he's a magician.— Bomani Jones (@bomani_jones) March 30, 2013
Alford to UCLA is a perfect fit..Better than Riley hair..big time Cali recruiter..terrific style of play..Walton has to approve!!— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) March 30, 2013
I like the Steve Alford hire for UCLA. Why not hire the guy who ultimately coached all of Howland's recruits?— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) March 30, 2013
UCLA did a nice job here. Maybe Alford's style will adjust to be more "sexy" but he got UNM rolling. Real rolling.— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 30, 2013
Sign massive extension, lose to Harvard, land UCLA job?— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) March 30, 2013
There aren't many accomplished coaches who are hireable. Not sure why UCLA is getting panned, other than Twitter hates everything.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) March 30, 2013
Enron stock > Steve Alford's extension at New Mexico #worthlesspaper— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) March 30, 2013
Alford of course just signed a 10-year contract extension at New Mexico. So this officially renders all contract extensions as irrelevant.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 30, 2013
Steve Alford to become first coach to lead three different schools to losses against 14-seeds.— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) March 30, 2013
Told by sources Steve Alford was upset at UNM AD for publicly saying his raise would be paid for by increased ticket prices, concessions.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanCBS) March 30, 2013
One short-term benefit to the Alford hire for UCLA would be if he can interest Aaron Gordon. Older brother Drew played for Alford at UNM.— Jeff Eisenberg (@JeffEisenberg) March 30, 2013
If you polled 50 college coaches -- who is a better coach, Howland or Alford? -- I'd bet Howland wins 75-percent of vote.— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) March 30, 2013
Key for Steve Alford at UCLA is to hit LA area hard. 2014 class is loaded in So Cal.— Evan Daniels (@EvanDanielsFOX) March 30, 2013