Reaction from around the country to UCLA's surprise hire of Steve Alford

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

Steve Alford, left, is gone. So should New Mexico hire Craig Neal, right, permanently? (USATSI)

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:

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