You almost have to feel bad for Steve Alford.
He was a golden boy from way back and coaching was supposed to be easy for him.
Things didn’t work out so well for him at Iowa so, to some surprise he took off for greener pastures in New Mexico (figuratively speaking).
Just as he got a 10-year extension, he took the UCLA job. And while he’s generally been successful, UCLA has an impossible standard to live up to in John Wooden, who did things in the 60s that will never happen again.
Wooden won 10 national championships but that’s only one way to measure what UCLA was like then. Here’s another: Bill Walton was just the second best center UCLA ever had. And here’s another: his backup at UCLA, Swen Nater, was a first-round pick.
It’s a lot to live up to and Alford was never a popular choice. People have hired airplanes to haul banners over campus urging UCLA to dump him.
This season, like most of the rest of the PAC-12, the Bruins are mediocre and the heat on Alford is increasing.
That’s not surprising. Look at who has coached at UCLA since Wooden retired - Gene Bartow, Gary Cunningham, Larry Brown, Larry Farmer, Walt Hazzard, Jim Harrick, Steve Lavin, Ben Howland and now, Alford.
None of them left happily.
And now it looks like Alford will soon walk the Wooden plank.
That leads to two questions. First, who will take it if he is fired. And second, why would they?
If it were us, we’d start our list with both Hurleys (Bobby and Dan), Jeff Capel, Mark Few (never take it but you have to ask), Eric Musselman and Archie Miller.
Any of them could build a brilliant program there but none of them could satisfy the expectations.
This is a lesson Duke fans should learn from before they have to.
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- Alford dismisses fan concern after latest UCLA loss
- Monday Overreactions: Markus Howard goes nuts, Kentucky’s back, Alford’s out?
- Steve Alford Seat at UCLA Now Turned Up to Absolutely Scorching