I am a big UCLA basketball fan. I was a little kid when UCLA made its’ run of 10 national championships in 11 years and my love of college basketball was forged by Coach Wooden and his cavalcade of stars that graced the hardwood at Pauley Pavilion.
So what I am going to say right now may shock you. If Indiana offers Steve Alford their head coaching job, I think he would be a fool not to take it. As a basketball coach, his stock has never been higher. He is still somewhat of a Hoosier icon, and his leverage with IU will never be higher. They will probably pay him twice what he will make in Westwood, and they will give him time to build a program.
Coach Alford has never really been embraced out here. His hiring was seen as a bit of a step down for the program. Just a year ago, there were many who were calling for him to be fired. Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf saved his job. Both are likely gone after this tourney run ends. And Lonzo Ball did not go to UCLA because of Coach Alford. People out here know that. He went to UCLA because of the market, its’ history, and its’ proximity to home. It is the same reason why his two younger brothers have also committed to UCLA. In a city of stars, Coach Alford is an afterthought. His incredible history as a basketball player is seen as “cute,” but not relevant here. It does not resonate like it does in Indiana.
Right or wrong, UCLA Basketball sees itself as USC football sees itself. As a historic program that is bigger than any one coach. In fact, there have been many UCLA coaches who have been swallowed by the shadow of Wooden. It is what it is. And it will be like this long after Alford and all of the Ball brothers have gone to the NBA (please God let the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball).
No matter what happens, I would like to thank him for what he has done for the UCLA program. Pauley has been filled to the rafters and rocking this season. All of the big celebrities are courtside for games. The Bruins, win or lose, have been a very fun team to watch…and cheer for. I am hoping that Coach Alford and the Bruins win NCAA title #12.