We would be remiss in our reporting on UCLA sports to not report that Steve Lavin's job as head basketball coach at UCLA is in question.
Given the history and the intensity of the debate over Lavin's fate, that is all, though, this site will report at this time concerning Lavin's status.
But, also, at this point, it would seem remiss not to list the potential candidates that could be mentioned for the UCLA basketball head coaching job, if it were to become available.
The biggest factor in who UCLA could possibly hire if the job opened up will be how much money UCLA is willing to spend for its coach. While many fans are looking at UCLA's hiring of its new football coach as an indication as to the process that could occur in searching for a new basketball coach and the money that could be involved, that might not be an accurate indication. The UCLA basketball head coaching job is different than the football coaching job, in many ways. Even if UCLA were limited by the salary constraints that were evident in the search for the football head coaching job, the position of head basketball coach at UCLA might attract bigger-named coaches willing to take less pay than we saw in football.
The Potential Candidates:
Ben Howland, Pittsburgh Head Coach. He is one of the hottest coaches in the country, and in college basketball circles, it's justified. He's considered a very good coach who also hires good assistants. Fox Sports' Frank Burlison just ranked Pittsburg the #1 team in the nation after Arizona lost to LSU during the weekend. Howland won the national coach of the year award a year ago. He turned around
Mark Few, Gonzaga Head Coach. One of the most successful on the west coast in recent years, he continued to build Gonzaga into a powerhouse once Dan Monson left for
Rick Majerus, Utah Head Coach. If the job opens up, he will openly campaign for it. He definitely wants it, and he's wanted it for years. It's a question of whether UCLA and Majerus could reach an accord, given some of his issues. Namely, his health. Secondly, Majerus might not be able to adapt to being the type of team player UCLA wants its coaches to be. Going to alumni and booster dinners, etc., isn't something Majerus does at
Pat Douglass, UC Irvine Head Coach. He's not, reputation-wise, on the same level as some on this list, but he's considered a good coach in college basketball circles. He's the coach that UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero hired at UC Irvine. Guerrero knows him, knows he's a good coach and trusts him. While many fans might clamor for a bigger name, all UCLA really needs to succeed in basketball, with all the advantages it has, is good coaching. And Douglass would almost certainly provide that. He also has a rep for hiring good assistants. It could be tough, though, for Guerrero to pull the trigger here unless Douglass has a good season this year. But make no mistake: Even though he's not a big name, Douglass can coach and he could be everything UCLA needs.
Ernie Kent, Oregon Head Coach. He fits most of the criteria. He's considered a good coach, has west coast and Pac-10 ties, has great head coaching experience, and he's Black. He's Karl Dorrell, if Dorrell had been the head coach at
Mike Montgomery, Stanford Head Coach. It's unlikely, but he would probably get at least an inquiring phone call.
Kelvin Sampson, Oklahoma Head Coach. Hottest Black coach in the country, and he has west coast ties (coached
Roy Williams, Kansas Head Coach. Don't laugh. It is a longshot, but it would be a possibility, and you'd probably hear his name kicked around. He has said before the only other jobs he would take would be
Bob Williams, UC Santa Barbara Head Coach. He has a rep as a good coach, and a good recruiter. He is well-liked by UCSB's AD, Gary Cunningham, the ex-UCLA head coach who is also close to Guerrero. He's done very well at UCSB, and is having a good year. Williams would probably be a solid name on the secondary list of candidates.
Quinn Snyder, Missouri Head Coach. The word is he would want the job badly. But it's unlikely he'd get past the initial name-mentioning stage. He's young and slick, and is really still unproven. He also has a rep for cutting corners in recruiting. He's kind of the Rick Neuheisel of the basketball coaching world.
Brad Holland, San Diego Head Coach. Ex-UCLA player, it's his dream job, and he'd definitely get mentioned, but there are at least a few above him on the list that UCLA would have to strike out with for UCLA to get to him.
Mark Gottfried, Alabama Head Coach. Ex-UCLA assistant who's doing really well at
Bill Self, Illinois Head Coach. His name would probably come up, but he more than likely wouldn't leave
Tubby Smith, Kentucky Head Coach. His name would probably get thrown around since the situation at
Jay Wright, Villanova Head Coach. A hot young coach, but is an east coast guy and unlikely that the two sides would get together.
Dana Altman, Creighton Head Coach. Another pretty hot up-and-coming coach with no west coast ties, but his name will be thrown around for any bigger coaching job openings.
Names that Have Gotten Thrown Around and Probably Will Get Thrown Around More That are Very Unlikely:
Paul Westphal, Pepperdine Head Coach. While on the surface it might make sense, it's an extremely bad fit. Westphal is a pro style coach since, well, he was a pro coach. His teams play little defense and lack discipline – not exactly the style Dan Guerrero would want. Also, Westphal, being a former pro coach, isn't exactly a recruiting junkie. He could possibly be looking for the next step to another pro job. And he very well might not have the hunger and aggressiveness that UCLA could really use. And being a USC guy, he's openly made jokes about UCLA in the past.
Henry Bibby, USC Head Coach. An extreme longshot to everyone who knows anything about the UCLA situation and Bibby as a coach. Bibby isn't exactly an easy personality to get along with. His players don't exactly like him. They might respect him as a coach, but they might not like him. It's not too much to ask that UCLA has a coach that players like and respect. They type of players he recruits wouldn't fit well at UCLA either. It's just not a good fit all around.
Jeff Van Gundy, former New York Knicks Coach. He has said that, if he wanted to take a college job, he'd want the UCLA job. He's considered one of the best coaching minds in the business. But it's more than likely a longshot; He'd probably want too much money and really, when it came down to it, wouldn't want to coach college basketball.