Storied Program Settles For An Unspectacular Choice As Coach
Solid. Tho not spectacular.
That’s UCLA’s new basketball coach, Mick Cronin.
With an opening since the first of the year, it took Athletic Director Dan Guerrero more than four months – 100 days, actually – to come up with Cronin. This brings more yawns than cheers in Westwood. In fact, it brings to mind that line from the Monty Python movie. “And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaaaaay.”
Meanwhile, Alabama and Texas A&M hired perfect coaches for their programs that have inspired their respective fan bases who can’t wait for the next season to start.
Considering the history of these schools in basketball, you would think it would be the other way around.
But that’s leadership for you. While Guerrero had a head start the equivalent of the distance from Westwood to Tuscaloosa, he stumbled out of the gate and limped to the finish line. He even had help from Golden State Warriors General Manager Bob Meyers yet the best he could do is a coach who has a solid 296-147 career record but is about as sizzling a hire as steak on a cold grill.
There was the flirtation with John Calipari, but the Bruins had not chance at him. UCLA was offering Calipari $1 million less a year that he’s currently making and Calipari used the offer to post up against Kentucky, turning it into a lifetime contract. This was after some UK fans were getting restless after another NCAA tournament disappointment.
Then there was the Jamie Dixon debacle, UCLA apparently refusing to pay the $8 million buyout. There is speculation Guerrero balked at paying Tennessee $5 million and thus could not land Rick Barnes.
So let’s go on the cheap, down to a guy who has been at a mid-major for 13 years. A coach whom Virginia Tech passed on to hire a guy from Wofford.
UCLA fans, desperate for a winner, will give Cronin a chance. They figure with the talent on hand and what previous coach Steve Alford has coming in – despite all his coaching faults, Alford could recruit – and the name brand, that Cronin can bring in talent to UCLA.
After all, they argue, those “four letters” still carry a lot of influence.
Maybe, or maybe not, but one thing is for certain: it sure did not help when trying to find a coach.
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