Where there’s no smoke, there’s a smoke screen as to why UCLA doesn’t have a basketball coach yet

Puffs of blue-and-white smoke have yet to come out of the Pauley Pavilion chimney.

If and when they do, how can we be sure Nike doesn’t buy the rights to it and add some God-awful camouflage coloring just to mess with our up-to-the-nanosecond Twitter reports?

It’s been a difficult week trying to keep track of the Mark Few and far between who may or may not be interested in the UCLA men’s collegiate basketball head coaching position.

Smart move by Shaka Smart to stick at VCU, which is almost UCLA spelled backwards.

Even-keel Brad Stevens knew it was best to keep his services at Butler. Service with a smile and a towel draped over your bent right forearm, you constant overachiever.

Tubby Smith went straight from being let go at Minnesota – after he knocked UCLA out of the big dance – and chugged over to an interview at Texas Tech, a place that once thought Bob Knight would be the answer to their mess.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar went on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to declare his interest in the job, and it was the best joke told on the show all night.

Ed O’Bannon, selling cars in the Nevada desert, went on a national radio show the other day and endorsed former teammates Tyus Edney and Cameron Dollar for the job. Again, this is coming from a car salesman.

What’s Larry Brown up to these days? Doesn’t Jim Harrick have some friends up at Monty’s who owe him a few favors?

The question isn’t why the UCLA job doesn’t attract the top-level candidates as it once did – or, apparently, in retrospect, hiring Ben Howland away from Pitt wasn’t all the big a coup 10 years ago – it’s what the job stands for these days.

It’s become one of those high-tech mouse traps that you see outside of all commercial facilities. It looks all normal and eye pleasing on the outside, but once you get in, it’s all about who’s been moving your cheese.

And too many times, the rat they trap instead is the one telling the athletic director how to run things.

Why not just hire Rube Goldberg now and get it over with? Doug Gottlieb may even endorse that, while also declining to be interviewed.

If the Catholic Church needed less than a couple of bell-tower rings of conclave to select a new pope, what in the name of St. John Wooden is the holdup with finding a Bruins basketball coach?

Apparently there are several deadly sins that come with this position. A gluttony of expectation. The pride of past achievements. The envy of any coach who eventually relents to taking the open USC job.

And, perhaps, the wrath that comes with living up to a pyramid of distress.

The new UCLA coach doesn’t have to practice celibacy, just repetitive celebrations.

He doesn’t have to clothe the naked or visit the sick. Just make the bloated alumni feel as if they’re voices are heard out of the confessional booth.

Sorry, we’re good with where we are. We don’t need that kind of high-profile pressure when the cash doesn’t match the insurance benefits.

Somewhere, Rick Majerus is looking at all this, having a helluva good time chomping on a turkey leg, and laughing out loud. Gene Bartow just asked him what the heck was so funny.

And Andy Enfield can put his arm around a Cinderella-supermodel wife, watch the sun come up over the balcony from his trailer-sized office at the Florida Gulf Coast College campus – where ever that may be – and enjoy the fact that being a small, wealthy fish in an ocean of skepticism far away from the roller coaster on the Santa Monica  pier means never having to say you’re sorry for a first-round NCAA exit.

And that’s not blowing smoke.

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