Q: I am concerned we, or coach Alford, haven’t signed any basketball recruits let alone kids from LA. What is the deal?
Only one week of the July evaluation period has elapsed, so it’s not time to panic yet. Four other Pac-12 schools don’t have any commitments yet, and only Arizona State has multiple commitments. If UCLA whiffs on point guard Josh Perkins though, it might be in trouble. Jordan McLaughlin is the other top option, but hasn’t indicated that he’s leaning toward any team and said he plans on taking visits even into fall.
Q:In your opinion, is any of the hyped up hysteria on certain Bruin blog sites about Steve Alford’s lucrative contract and his projected ability to succeed — three months before official practice even starts — justified, or do some bloggers simply have nothing better to do?
The buyout terms were stupid. Alford wasn’t a big-name hire, and there was no reason for UCLA to lock itself in what is essentially a guaranteed $18.2 million contract. That said, it’s not disastrous. The $10.4 million buyout isn’t owed unless Alford is fired before April 30, 2016; almost any new coach would have deserved at least a three-year leash.
However, UCLA still has to keep Alford for at least five seasons unless it wants to pay him $5.2 million not to coach. It’s obviously moot if he does well, but it was nevertheless an unnecessary commitment.
Q: If you had to guess the success of the new basketball coaching staff versus Howland’s (Way Worse, Worse, Same, Better, Way Better) …
Strength / Fitness
Offensive Scheme / Execution
Defensive Scheme / Execution
Generation of NBA’ers
What does your gut tell you about Alford and staff?
A: I’d guess that they’ll be better in strength/fitness and offensive scheme, at least compared to Howland’s latter years. The defense might not match those of Howland’s best years, but should be better than last season. Recruiting should be better, but they’ll have to prove that soon. Public relations might be a wash given how poorly the hire has been received so far, but winning would take care of that. I don’t expect Alford to match the ridiculous NBA output Howland was responsible for, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be successful at UCLA.
Q: How long do you think it will be before UCLA starts competing for national championships in football on a regular basis? Wouldn’t you agree the SEC bias is due to ESPN’s almost $3 billion contract with them and the way the BCS was set up for the SEC to run the table? Is Jim Mora in for the long haul?
I could see the team contending as soon as 2014 in a best-case scenario, but a lot of dominoes need to fall the right way (Xavier Su’a-Filo and Brett Hundley stay, a running back emerges, top assistants don’t leave, etc.). Sustaining that year in and out will depend a lot on if the team can be as successful recruiting as it has the last two classes. I think the SEC bias is due a lot to Alabama just wrecking everyone, but it’s not as deep a league as fans there would like to think. Jim Mora will be around for a good number of years.
Q: If you were head football coach heading into fall camp, what would be your three biggest concern areas from a position and personnel perspective? And to what extent do you see a potential silver lining?
Defensive line depth, secondary, backup quarterback. The latter certainly isn’t as pressing given how good Hundley is, but right now, the gap between him and the rest of the group is just cavernous. Defensive line just got battered through and after, losing Brandon Tuliaupupu and Owamagbe Odigizhuwa, but Cassius Marsh will be very, very good. I think the secondary could surprise given some of the spring performances (Anthony Jefferson, Ishmael Adams) and incoming freshmen.
Q: 1) How much do you hate your job? 2) Will our O-Line actually be better this year? Or is it like every summer when the coaches/players rave about how much better EVERY unit looks?
1) This much. That’s more or less what I look like all the time.
2) Barring significant injury, the offensive line should be markedly better. It returns almost every significant piece from what was a young unit last year, and injects that with the one of the country’s top-two recruiting classes at the position.
Q: Any glimmer of hope that DirecTV and the Pac12 Network strike a deal before the 2013 football season kicks off?
Very little, unfortunately.