Full transcript from UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero on hiring Steve Alford

UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero’s opening statement:

Tremendously exciting day for me and the entire UCLA family as we are proud to announce the hiring of Steve Alford as the new men’s basketball coach. Since last Sunday, obviously, the last six days have been pretty crazy, quite a whirlwind. There was a great deal of interest from many circles for this job. During the past several days, I received a lot of input from individuals both inside and out of basketball. Around the game of basketball as well. These individuals have provided great input, great insight, and certainly helped contribute to where we are today.

I think what resonated most about these conversations is how much alignment of vision there was between me and many others in terms of the characteristics that were important in the next coach. In Steve Alford, we found exactly what we were seeking. An outstanding coach, a great competitor, an excellent teacher of the game, builder of programs, someone who cares deeply about his players and his family. An individual that values academics, that has established a habit of winning in his respective programs. Maybe more importantly, an individual who really wanted to accept the challenge of being the head coach at the UCLA.

I can’t tell you again how thrilled again I am to have Steve and his family join us. I believe he will build this program the right way.

Q: When did you know he became available considering he had just agreed to a contract extension at New Mexico?

We made the outreach to Steve. I think when you talk to Steve, he’s going to tell you he was just very pleased with his situation in New Mexico. … When we made the contact and began the discussion, we both realized that something could be possible. We actually consummated the deal late last night, early this morning.

Q: What are the contract terms?

It’s a seven-year deal, $18.2 million. $2.6 million a year. It has a $200,000 signing bonus. Obviously, there’s a bonus pool that’s included in that.

Q: How will you handle his buyout with New Mexico?

Generally speaking, it’s the coach himself that has that responsibility, but we’ll work out the details if necessary.

Q: How did his Big Ten experience with Iowa weigh in?

The fact that he has been on a big stage both in the Big Ten conference and in the Mountain West conference really helped as we decided who was ready for this position. If you think about the last several years, the Mountain West has arguably been one of the best conferences in the country. … He obviously did well. He’s had three championships, three Coach of the Years in the last few years. Just won back-to-back championships in the past two years. … I believe the Big Ten experience really laid a foundation.

Q: Is Alford ready to handle the expectations of UCLA?

If there was anyone better suited for this job from an expectations standpoint or a pressure standpoint, it’s Steve. Remember, he grew up as one of the most recognizable and iconic players in the state of Indiana, where of course, basketball is king. He’s the son of a terrific coach. He grew up dealing with pressure from external sources at a very young age. He goes to Indiana, plays for one of the legends of the game (Bob Knight), wins a national championship. Plays on the Olympic team. Anything about Indiana basketball is pressure in so many ways.

The state of New Mexico, and the University of New Mexico, they take their basketball very seriously. I think the most important thing about that question, is that he’s not the kind of guy who will shy away from what UCLA basketball is all about. He’ll handle the expectations with dignity, with understanding, with class, and because that’s the kind of person that he is. I think he’s ready for this stage, without question.

Q: Was there an effort not to let this process drag out?

It wasn’t that we were trying to make the decision quickly. We wanted to make the right decision more than anything else. The opportunity created itself. If he had still been in the tournament, this thing could have been drawn out. The fact that he was available, the fact that we were able to make the contact, that we were able to garner mutual interest, that allowed us to have a serious discussion and to get to the point.

We’ve been cranking from the very beginning. When Monday hit after the announcement (of Ben Howland’s firing), we were moving forward. You spend that day talking to coaches, talking to players, and you talk to parents and you talk to recruits and all those kinds of things, which are things that are necessary to do as you get ready to move forward. The fact that we were really able to get it done in short order was really a byproduct of the circumstances that we were dealt with.

Q: How important is recruiting Los Angeles, and how much of a consideration was it in the hire?

The answer to that question is it’s critically important. I believe we lost the connection to the L.A. market in a way that should not have happened. This is a way to get it back. Steve was recognized as a first-class individual, just a personable guy whose players loved playing for him. First order of business, obviously, is to make inroads in the city. There’s a lot of great players in the city of Los Angeles. We obviously want to keep as many of them at home as possible.

Q: How many of the people you sought input from were ex-UCLA players?

A lot of them. I really appreciate that they took the time and the effort to reach out. These are individuals that love the experience that they had at UCLA, love the university, want what’s best for the university. They contacted me via phone, met with a couple of them. It was a great opportunity to engage and to share our collective thoughts relative to how we can move forward.

Q: How much input will you have on the coaching staff?

The input that I have is to give him a coaches pool so he can go out and bring the coaches that are necessary. It will be his call in terms of who he actually has on his staff. We’re talking that through as soon as he gets on campus. I will ask him to talk to the individuals that we have on staff now. Some of them are obviously looking for other positions. Some of them are not sure whether they can be retained. It’s typical that the coach will at least talk to them and find out what they’re all about.

Q: Will there be a chance for UCLA to use charter flights to all away games like other top programs?

There’s a lot of discussion about that. The answer is sure, of course it’s possible at some point in time. We have the benefit of being in Los Angeles. We certainly have an airport that flies virtually every place with multiple opportunities and a number of flights. There are going to be occasions, especially with the Pac-12 deal, where that will be reviewed and we’ll do what’s necessary.

Q: Was there thought of waiting until after the NCAA tournament to go after candidates still participating?

We kind of knew where we were focused. Once you have a certain candidate in mind, if you have an opportunity to engage, and there’s reciprocity in terms of the interest, then you just keep going down that path until you see something happen.

There’s sometimes a misconception about how this thing works. An overture to a coach doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve been turned down. These individuals sometimes have no interest in going to another place. The first thing you need to do is to gauge whether there’s a possibility there. Once we knew Steve was interested, that obviously allowed us to continue moving forward.

Q: Is there concern that he wasn’t reached a Sweet Sixteen in 14 years?

I wanted to find the coach who can build a program the right way. More than anything, we need UCLA to sustain success. Sustained success means we establish a great foundation, that we bring in the right kind of kinds, that we enjoy the kind of success that we all want, and that we continue to do that year after year. It’s harder and harder for us at UCLA, in many ways. Obviously, there are a number of kids that will come in and decide to leave. We’ve had our issues with transfers as of late. I’m hoping that Steve can come in, bring in quality players, and hopefully allow them to grow and develop so that they can have a program, that year in and year out, can compete at a high level. We all want to win championships. That’s always our goal. I think Steve gives us a good chance to get us back on track to get there. …

I’ve known Steve and his capabilities for a long time. I’ve certainly watched his teams play when I was a member of the NCAA committee. I had an opportunity to watch a lot of his games. I enjoy his style. I think the players will enjoy his style. He’s the right guy for us.

Q: What do you see from him that indicates he’ll be able to mingle with boosters and help fundraise?

He’s a very personable guy. When you sit down and talk to him, he’s engaging. Obviously, he’s very active in his community in New Mexico. He’s done a lot of charity work there. He and his family. He has a wonderful family. I think the UCLA family will embrace him. I think he’ll be able to hit on all cylinders. He’ll be an excellent recruiter, appealing to recruits. He’ll be able to energize the fanbase in so many ways. Look at New Mexico. They get 15,000 people a game. It’s madness there. They have a great following there. I believe he’ll be able to energize our fanbase as well. And I believe he’ll be able to connect to all of our donors and our boosters and alums and individuals on campus and around basketball.

Q: When did the two of you have a face-to-face meeting?

I’m not going to get into forensic details of that stuff. I don’t want to get into the process. I’m just glad it’s over. We signed a deal, actually a term sheet this morning. Still needs to be worked on and cleaned up. Really, it was today when we put it all together.

Q: Was there a search firm involved?

There was not.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/sakatalaw Cliff Sakata

    Dan Guerrero sucks.

    • Michael Daly

      Well….why? I guess you are not in favor of Steve Alford. I doubt Guerrero had any realistic better options. I am optimistic this could be a good hire.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sakatalaw Cliff Sakata

        My probably with Dan Guerrero is that he has a track record of failed hirings. Not only that, it’s as though we settle for whatever is left over and are never able to get the primary target.
        Meanwhile he is the beneficiary of an over $800,000 salary and pension. How is it that he’s able to keep his job?

        • Mark

          Howland was a good hire. However, Howland dug his own hole. This is a good hire. Mora was a good hire (it took a little while but we’re finally there). John Savage was a good hire for baseball. Ucla wins a ton of championships in other sports. Something is going right.

          I don’t see this as settling. Those other guys whose name got tossed around weren’t Ucla caliber in the end.

          • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

            Katz, you’re a joke. Mora has done zip. Finally there? Where’s that? A crappy bowl game? Savage isn’t a good hire, he’s a GREAT hire….a Trojan of course. Things are going great, IF you like Women’s sports. Wake up.

        • Michael Daly

          I do hope it is a good hire. I don’t think it is fair though to just say he should have gotten someone better when the two considered “better” wanted to stay home. Outside of those two I think Alford is as attractive a candidate out there. And hey…Mora is doing ok Guerrero should be given some credit for that.

  • Mark

    I will repeat: This is a great hire–truly the best person that’s actually available. You know what, best of Luck to Stevens, Few, Smart and anyone else. They are content to stay in their small ponds. They are no ready for the Big Time, so it’s no use talking about them.

    • maze949

      So, you won’t be selling your mythical season tickets?

      • Mark

        Get your own season tickets. There are plenty to go around. Part of the reason for canning Howland is that no one is showing up.

        • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

          Mark is in the Katz bird seat.

        • maze949

          I have a pair, thanks. You, however, do not (pun intended). You just lie about being a “fan” on a blog.

          • Mark

            I think you’re being unnecessarily personal against me. I may take shots against the public figures associated with this blog, but I’ve never gone after a fellow commenter. I’m just as much of a fan of Ucla or anyone else. Howland had the go; I was the first, and pretty much only, person to mention it in this space.

            And I called for Alford several weeks ago. You just can’t stand that I’ve FORGOTTEN more about college basketball than you’ll ever know.

          • FreeShabazz

            Even though its hilarious and a complete lie that you called Alford weeks ago Trojan Mark, at least you show how non-sensical you really are going all in on backing this hire before the guy even starts coaching.

    • Lifelong Bruin Fan

      I think it’s great that you are enthusiastic about the new hire as I share at least some of your optimism, but I think your posts would carry more weight if you elucidated why you feel this way (besides he wanted to come here, unless that’s your primary reason).

      • Mark

        I grew up watching Indiana and Steve is a true legend. His daddy was a coach. Say what you want about Knight, but Alford played for him in the heyday. He learned a lot. Alford has done good coaching at 2nd tier universities. I have season tickets to San Diego State, too, and watch all their games and a lot of Mountain West games on TV. New Mexico has been the top team during Alford’s tenure. His teams play disclopined and smart. Dont worry about losing to Harvard. Remember, Howland never did anything with Pitt in the Ncaa tournament. That was a big knock against him when he came to Ucla. Alford is going to get us good players. New Mexico’s best players this year are from LA. Alford resurrected Drew Gordon and made him a very good college player. Alford is going to recruit well in LA and recruit respectable, 4-year players who take pride in wearing the Ucla uniform.

        • Lifelong Bruin Fan

          Good answer. I remember Coach Alford well from his playing days at IU (and less successfully in the NBA). I never dreamed he would one day be at the helm of UCLA basketball.

          He has the basketball pedigree, no doubt, and although I haven’t followed New Mexico closely, on paper it appears he has done a good job which you echo. Let’s see what he can do with a squad full of McDonald’s All-Americans. With all due respect to Coach Wooden, I hope there’s a little Bobby Knight in him that won’t let players get away with BS (see Reeves Nelson et al).

          I’m optimistic.

        • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

          Right Katz

        • Andy

          Ben Howland went to the sweet 16 twice in his 5 years at Pitt.

    • bruincheerleader

      AGREED+100

    • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

      Not ready for the Big Time? Then they should have signed with the bRuins.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    I hope Coach Alford will consider hiring Kareem as an assistant. This would be a huge boost to recruiting particularly for big men as well as a great way for players to experience a connection to UCLA’s proud legacy. Kind of the way Coach K had Johnny Dawkins beside him on the sidelines (or Coach Wooden had Gary Cunningham).

    • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

      Alford is not that stupid.

  • http://twitter.com/FatBooster Joe Blow

    Q: Dan, was Alford’s lying to New Mexico a major plus factor in your decision to hire him?

    YES. Absolutely.

  • Andy

    After reading that transcript, you can tell Alford was hired at UCLA because he’s perceived as the anti-Howland-i.e. can sustain a program,personable,player’s coach,a fun style of play,etc.The problem is though he has never made it past the Sweet 16 in all his years coaching. Guy sounds far from elite.

    • Michael Daly

      But he has built a solid program at New Mexico. At UCLA he will be able to get more talented players and so it follows to me that he will have a chance to get to places he never could before. I like that the AAU coaches have good things to say about him. This was not the case with Howland.

  • Mark

    Please stop talking about Kareem. He’s not going to be part of the team, nor should he be.

    • Bru-Crew_UCLA

      Wow Mark! I see U spent your entire Saturday defending Coach Alford. May I have my say dear Sir? U took issue with maze949 blog post. U said it was an “unnecessarily personal against” U. Coach Smart and anyone else U said “FEW” to them. U take shots at who U chose to. I read postings from fellow bloggers blasting U, I don’t pile on.Others have the right to take shots at U as they see fit, right? so long as it’s not about your race, religion, sexual orientation……. those sensitive categories, right?

      Dan Guerrero obviously made a panic, last minute coaching hire. Did we actually go hard after those NBA and college coaches that every college program would be blessed to have? All I know, we have a coach that had no desire to leave NM before until we open the vault for him, begging him to take the job off Guerrero’s hands. He wasn’t wanted by any elite programs in the country. I heard nothing about a bidding war between UCLA and other top tier teams for his services. U were lobbying for Coach Alford week ago? Why? What did U see in Coach Alford’s resume’ that would merit him being rewarded with one of the few prized College Basketball jobs in America? As a BRUIN fan don’t U want the absolute best for our programs?

      Do U think ACC universities aspire to hire mediocre coaches for their basketball teams? Does the SEC hire mediocre coaches for their football teams? Allow me to answer myself for U…..Hell no, they don’t and neither should we. Mediocre coaches equal mediocre players and at best moderate results. Some Athletic programs demand and deserve more and UCLA happens to be one of those programs. If the Coach isn’t go enough for Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona, he or she damn sure is not fit to lead UCLA mens basketball team.

      U appear to be passionate about this hire, I see no evidence of that reverence for this historically sacred basketball program. U took shots at Kareem, yet praised Coach Alfred, really? Defend that position. Kareem,has coaching experience.He was coached by the Wizard himself. He is the greatest college basketball player of all times, one of the top 5 NBA players of all times, NBA points leader of all times and U say he is not qualified to be on the coaching staff of his Alma Mater, really? U don’t think he would add value to this staff? Your posting can’t be taken seriously. Your praise and defense of Coach Alford wreaks of conjecture and hyperbole.

  • Peter Chen

    I hope I am wrong but so far the facts don’t quite add up. Style of pay: Alford’s UNM don’t score or run much on offense. And his recruiting is not exactly stellar: two and three stars. Having said that, I would take a developer of talent over slick salesman. But, exactly what is Alford’s style of play and recruiting prowess?

    • Mark

      New Mexico’s 2 best players this year are from LA. He’s going to get good players to Ucla. And he’s going to get the right players–multi-year guys. I think in his soul he’s an offensive player and his Ucla teams will score points. But they will be disciplined and methodical as well.

      • Peter Chen

        I think the two players weren’t highly recruited and out of six years at UNM, he hasn’t recruited stellar. Not sure why reports have him as good recruier. He is going to get more competition recruiting at PAC-12. I like recruiting 3+ yrs players, which Howland was doing largely during the final four years. Alford feels like a Howland. Fingers crossed. Go bruins!