Thursday, March 1, 2012

UCLA Reaction: Howland and Guerrero Must Go

I was not shocked to read the article by George Dorhmann yesterday in Sports Illustrated. Many Bruins fans have been waiting for this expose for quite some time. Quite frankly, I am not surprised by many of his allegations and I am a little relieved that the wrongdoings at UCLA did not go as far.

As you may know, Dorhmann and his thorough reporting style have been responsible for the end of coaching careers across the college athletics landscape (most recently ending the memorabilia-for-tattoos fiasco at Ohio State University). His history with UCLA goes back to when he first reported on a scandal involving Baron Davis and then Bruins head coach Jim Harrick. That article cost Harrick his job and ultimately led to years of mediocrity with Steve Lavin, a brief return to the top with Howland, and then back to mediocrity and embarrassment.

I have used this venue before to air my issues with Howland. The article cements my belief that Howland is out of his element amongst superstar recruits at UCLA. I could not have begun to believe that the once firm coaching style of Big-East Ben had eroded to enabling many of his star players both on and off the court. The fact that Dohrmann documented first person player accounts of specific instances where Howland made exceptions/gave preferential treatment to Reeves Nelson (and others), only affirms my thoughts that Howland's character and discipline have been compromised. I was on board for firing him before the article, and I am even more resolute in that demand now that I know what really was happening behind the scenes.

The thing that I did not expect was to be so shocked at the actions of UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. The debacle of the football program aside, Guerrero has never drawn my ire like he does many other Bruins fans. He has managed (sometimes in spite of himself) to hire coaches that win championships in non-football/basketball sports. I have consistently found myself blaming losing coaches like Howland, Lavin, Karl Dorrell, and Rick Neuheisel, before I blame the AD.

This article in no way describes what the NCAA would define as a "lack of institutional control". No major violations occurred; some pot was smoked, some ecstasy was popped at a New Year's party, and players were granted access to some expensive LA clubs. These may ultimately result in a slap on the wrist from the NCAA. But that doesn't matter at UCLA.

Like I said in my previous post on Howland, the legacy of John Wooden, whether coaches and administrators like it or not, is always hanging over the program. The pyramid of success demands a level of excellency that does not tolerate a lack of commitment to teammates and doing things the right way. Dan Guerrero, in his efforts to save his own job, does not understand this.

Instead of coming out in front of the story and immediately firing Howland, Guerrero went so far as to say, "Ben has admitted he made mistakes in evaluation, whether evaluating talent or character."

Instead of a lack of leadership in a position that should be an example of professionalism, Guerrero sees a few bad egg kids who have ruined the program. This is a far step from the actions taken by former AD Pete Dalis back in 1996 when faced with the Harrick scandal. Just a whiff of improper actions by the head basketball coach was enough to terminate the relationship. For failing to realize just how inappropriate his response has been, Guerrero needs to be shown the door, along with Howland, by Chancellor Gene Block.

For a program that should be the highest standard in college basketball, the Bruins have become a failure on the court and an embarrassment off it.

No comments:

Post a Comment