UCLA hires New Mexico’s Steve Alford

UCLA has officially hired New Mexico head coach Steve Alford, the school announced Saturday morning.

“Steve is the perfect fit for UCLA,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “He is part of the storied history of the game of college basketball and understands the tradition and uniqueness of UCLA. Yet he also connects with a new generation of players and brings an up-tempo and team-oriented brand of basketball to Westwood. We welcome Steve, his wife Tanya, and children Kory, Bryce and Kayla to the Bruin family and look forward to many years of success.”

Alford will reportedly make $2.6 million per year on a seven-year contract.

The coach had just agreed to a 10-year contract extension with the Lobos that reportedly paid him $2 million a year including incentives, but a buyout of just $150,000 left the door open for the Bruins. The buyout was set to increase to $1 million on April 1.

He had just led the Lobos to back-to-back Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles, but suffered an embarrassing loss to No. 14-seeded Harvard in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

The 48-year-old has advanced a team to the Sweet Sixteen just once — in 1999, as head coach of Southwest Missouri State. He went to Iowa for eight seasons after that, taking the Hawkeyes to three NCAA tournament berths before his six-year tenure in New Mexico.

Alford has a 463-235 career mark, and is 5-7 in the NCAA tournament. As a star player at Indiana, he won an NCAA championship under Bob Knight in 1987.

“I have been so fortunate and blessed in my life, and an opportunity to lead the one of the greatest programs in college basketball history is once-in-a-lifetime,” he said in a statement through the university. “It is an honor to be the Head Coach at UCLA, yet it is also a responsibility to ensure that our former, current and future players and fans are proud to be Bruins. I am grateful to Chancellor Gene Block and Dan Guerrero for this amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to get started.”

Alford’s son, Bryce, is a three-star shooting guard who will presumably join UCLA as well. He had been verbally committed to New Mexico before his father’s hire.

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  • 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.

    Welcome to UCLA, Coach Alford!

  • Hank

    Crrraaaappppp!

    • dave16

      my sentiments exactly

  • Marc

    This is the hire that Dan Guerrero said would excite Bruin fans?

    I don’t know; I just don’t feel excited.

    Of course, part of it is the coach who I think should have been considered apparently garnered zero attention. That plays a part in my feelings. But, I think, also, I haven’t seen his teams play, and so the one game I can remember seeing on TV is the embarrassing loss to Harvard.

    Lifelong Bruin Fan, you are right; that one loss should not make us look at him as a bad coach. But, that’s the only New Mexico game I’ve seen on TV; I don’t recall ever watching any Iowa games, either. So, my one sample is a terribly bad one. I will try to keep an open mind as knowing that.

  • samollie

    The jury is out, but I am optimistic. Let’s see how this immediately affects recruiting…

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

    Considering the alternatives, Kareem and Romar, it’s not a total failure and I can see why Alford is not too chicken to take the position, he’s a winner.

  • Mark

    This is just about the best outcome that we could have hoped for. I mentioned Alford as a good candidate on this blog several times and I’m really excited to welcome him. Remember, Ucla deserves someone who WANTS the job. We shouldn’t have to beg.

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

      You did Katz

  • Bru-Crew_UCLA

    typical Guerrero…….a panic hire. Let’s hope he’s the basketball equivalent of Coach Jim Mora. I hope we didn’t lock our self into a long term and big money contract with Coach Alford

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

      What did Mora do???? Laughable. Yesterday U baby. Hahahahaha

      • Marc

        Jim Mora Jr. beat USC in his first year. He will beat them again this year, mark my word. He won 9 games in his first year, he will beat that this year, mark my word.

        Kiffy is sucking the life out of usc’s once proud cheating program. LOL

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

          BFD. He will NOT beat SC this coming season. You’re delusional. As for cheating programs, look no further than filthy Wooden, Mr. Win At Any Cost. Should have named your court The Sam Gilbert floor instead of Woa Nellie. What a joke. As for football, 1954!

          • maze949

            Blow Joe spends his entire weekend on a rival’s blog…he knows all about “winning”.

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

            Can always count on you being here

    • BruinTax

      I’m guessing you said exactly the same thing when Mora was hired…

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    I just noticed that Coach Alford’s son Bryce will likely come to UCLA next year. If he can shoot anything like his father, that is a good thing.

    One aspect of our recruiting that I have bemoaned over the years is why every year we don’t recruit at least one kid who is a zone buster, even if he is not a top-shelf athlete. I guess you could say Jordan Adams filled that role this year to some degree, but especially in today’s game with the emphasis on 3-pt shooting and our opponents’ propensity to zone us, we need guys who can shoot lights out from outside, even if it’s just catch and shoot. It stretches defenses and opens lanes for our more athletic players to drive to the basket. Being able to shoot is a huge equalizer for lack of pure athletic ability, and Coach Alford should know this since he epitomized this to a T as a player.

  • Mark

    Way to go Jack in breaking this story. Oh, wait, you had no clue…

    • maze949

      And yet you troll the blog non-stop anyway.

    • samollie

      seriously dude…what is your deal?

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

      Mark – this is pretty lame, even for you.

    • UCLA ’64

      Has USC hired a basketball coach, yet, or are they still waiting?

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

        NOBODY wants that job

  • http://twitter.com/yokirby Tim Kirby

    Hope he’s more in the Wooden mold than the Bobby Knight mold…

  • chinob53

    Does anyone know if the Bruins are recruiting a big man or point guard for the coming season?

  • UCLA ’64

    Anyone who began learning the game of basketball from his father who was coach at the high school where John Wooden played already has quite a bit of UCLA basketball in his veins. This hire just may be a thing of destiny. I’m very excited about it. Plus, his Lobos team won 29 games this season and averaged 25.8 wins in his six years. The Lobos previous coach average 16.4 wins in five years. Coach Howland averaged 23.3 wins in his ten years at UCLA.

    I like this hire a lot!