Steve Lavin surprised UCLA didn’t have coach ‘in the wings’

Former UCLA head coach Steve Lavin decided to pipe in on his old school’s coaching search today. On SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation channel, he wondered why the Bruins the process has lasted almost a full week since Ben Howland’s official firing on Sunday.

“I’m surprised that they didn’t have their pick [waiting] in the wings because historically, programs like UCLA, they’ve got someone in the wings,” said Lavin, now coaching at St. John’s. “They are kinda treading water, but there’s been the wink and the understanding that it is a done deal.

“I know in my case Ben Howland was someone that was really in position six months, maybe even a year, in advance of him becoming the coach.”

UCLA fired Lavin on March 17, 2003. Howland was officially hired on April 2.

Lavin went on to endorse Washington coach Lorenzo Romar for the position despite “immediate sex appeal,” citing his style of play, ability to recruit Los Angeles and integrity. Both were assistants at UCLA under Jim Harrick, but Romar has been clear about his desire to stay at Washington.

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  • Mark

    In what universe do people care what Steve Lavin thinks? Having someone waiting in the wings is easier said than done. We’re interested in high quality coaches with teams playing in the NCAA tournament. I don’t see any reason to rush into this. When Indiana got Crean that took a little time. Worth the wait. Roy Williams turned down North Carolina once, for crying out loud.

    • FreeShabazz

      As bad of a coach he is, he is exactly right. Now it’s Delusional Trojan Mark. In what universe would a high quality coach with a team deep into the NCAA tourney want any other job? Let alone one with lofty expectations from entitled fans like you that don’t go to the games. You are right, losing recruits and setting our program back is definitely worth the wait. Hey Trojan Mark, maybe Coach K is coming after Duke goes to the final 4!!!!

    • You ain’t North Carolina. Try cal St Northridge

    • Mr. Katz?

  • Marc

    Gregg Marshall

  • Bigwoof1

    I have been telling you for weeks that there should have been someone lined up for the job, which has NOT been an easy turnover in the past. Jim Harrick, I believe, was hired after 4 others turned it town, and who knows how many passed on the job before it was given to Lavin, an unproven and the least qualified assistant at the time. Mark, the coaches you’re hoping for don’t want the job.

    • Mark

      I want the coach who wants the job. I get why Guerrero is calling high profile coaches, but I’m interested in the coaches who are calling him. Who’s hungry for the Ucla job?

  • Butch

    Let’s think outside the box and hire Walton and Kareem as co-coaches. They know UCLA, know the PAC-12, and have nation-wide recognition plus both were “raised” by Wooden. Why not?

    • Lifelong Bruin Fan

      I am agreeable to thinking outside the box. I’m not sure I would hire them as co-coaches, and as far as I know I have never heard of Walton express interest in the position, but I would welcome Kareem surrounded by proven assistants. He seems genuinely interested and with his unsurpassed basketball resume which includes a head coaching stint in the USBL* (where he won a championship), I think he deserves UCLA’s consideration. Just think of all of the 5-star big men clamoring for his instruction he could bring to Westwood!

      *Of note is another ex-player who got his start in head coaching with another USBL team, the Albany Patroons. His name–Phil Jackson.

    • And Sam Gilbert. Perfect pair….2 @$$holes.

    • A big plus is they appear to be the only ones interested in the job.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    Well, one big difference that Lav fails to mention is that it was almost a foregone conclusion that he would be replaced “six months, maybe even a year in advance of him being fired.”

    In Howland’s case, had Adams not gone down with injury and UCLA made a run by taking the Pac 12 tournament and knocking off their first two opponents (and who knows who they might have been with our higher seeding), he might still have been the coach next season (and even more deservedly so in my opinion).

  • 95UCLA

    Lavin should be worried about his own job, and who St. John’s has lined up to replace him. Less about UCLA.

  • Bru-Crew_UCLA

    way to stay classy Lav-had-been. He sounds like a BITTER ex who’s telling your soon to be ex how they got dumped. Focus on the red storm getting back into the tourney, instead getting bounced out of the N.I.T.

  • Surprised? Hardly. This is a second tier job. Face the facts. Even YOU, Lavin, wouldn’t come back.

  • Marc

    Steve Afford?!?!?!?

    When are we going to run Dan Guerrero out of town?

    Was this guy on anyone’s list? What has he done? Harvard beat them in the first round of the tourney. His style of play has been described as methodical.

    Seriously, it is time to show Dan Guerrero the door.

  • Why haven’t we been able to get a great coach since……John wooden. I guess we screwed up not keeping Denny Crum. But Howland, Lavin, Harrick, Hazzard, etc are all second and third tier guys.

  • Michael Daly

    ESPN saying its Steve Alford.

  • Mark

    STEVE ALFORD!! Suck it, everyone. I mentioned him a few weeks back. He’s going to be great!!!! The Easter Bunny couldn’t have brought no better present…

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    Alford is a surprise considering he had just signed a long-term contract.

    My first reaction is I like this hire. Alford was a great player under one of the best coaches of all time in an elite program, won an NCAA championship, understands the pressure of expectation to deliver results at the highest level, and he has done a good job at New Mexico despite those who will point to the loss to Harvard as a/the reason we shouldn’t have hired him. But I like what he has done at New Mexico.

  • Not so classy comment, Lav. But expected.