Bruins In Danger Of Losing College Basketball Blueblood Status
“Those four letters!”
That’s what a friend of mine said to me when I asked him why any highly-rated recruit would want to go to UCLA when they are not getting the coaching they need in order to improve and have no chance of winning National Championship. Or perhaps, of even making it to the NCAA Tournament.
Granted, that was in the ill-fated Steve Alford era, but it was a good point. By both of us.
Those “four letters” still mean something but legacy does not win games on the court. UCLA basketball has become a faded dynasty, one so dim that the incredible 1o championships won under John Wooden are only long-ago visions of those in a half-full Pauley Pavilion.
UCLA hasn’t won a title since 1995 under Jim Harrick, who was later fired for lying on an expense report. That’s certainly not something you’ll see in Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.”
Ever since Wooden, UCLA has been a revolving door of coaches only one of whom – Larry Brown – has any promise of Wooden-esque success. And at the time, Brown was bouncing around basketball more than basketballs were being dribbled on the court.
Alford was a terrible hire. He was a square peg in a round hole. He fit in at UCLA the way a lifelong New Yorker fits into Southern California. It’s just awkward. Plus, Alford was not a good coach in the first place.
With an open position, one has to wonder if this hire is botched, how long will “those four letters” matter to recruits.
And will UCLA still be considered by those in the community as a basketball “blueblood?” The Bruins are less like Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina than the are another faded power, Indiana.
You can’t live on legends forever. Eventually you have to produce championships. UCLA might be down to its last chance to live up to Wooden and his legacy with this upcoming coaching hire.