Ben Howland has missed the NCAA tournament twice in three years, something that has only happened to UCLA two other times since 1960. Once celebrated as one of the top coaches in the country, Howland’s critics have grown loud this season — the most prominent being Bill Walton.
Still, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said the 10th-year coach deserves to stay, dismissing the speculation around Howland’s job as “unreasonableness.”
From a Q&A with the Daily Bruin:
I think it’s stupid. Absolutely stupid. If the people here, who love UCLA, want to destabilize a really good situation, they’re doing a good job. Ben Howland’s gone to three Final Fours. The rest of the Pac-12 coaches combined have gone to one. One. ‘Oh, I don’t like his style.’ Well, they’re leading the league in scoring. So if you don’t like his style, you don’t like anybody in the league.
There’s been a high standard set here, and there’s some unreasonableness that goes along with that. Doesn’t matter if you’re bald like me or your hair is red or what. If you want to be reasonable, then I think this kind of talk is stupid.
(Lots of other interesting tidbits over at the Daily Bruin, which also did Q&As with Rece Davis and Digger Phelps.)
Bilas also talked to the Los Angeles News Group’s Tom Hoffarth about the atmosphere that coaches face in general, as well as about his upcoming book “Toughness.” From that interview:
I think it’s far more difficult for teams and coaches to deal with pressure points than in the past. Twenty-five years ago, there were no cellphones or the Internet. Locker rooms were closed, so things said stayed there. If a player went back to his dorm and told his friends, “You wouldn’t believe what Coach K challenged me with today,” that was private, it didn’t get into the newspaper. … I had a teacher tell me there was a difference between caring what people think and worrying about what they think. Care about it, don’t worry about it.