Five years after he led UCLA to its third consecutive Final Four, Ben Howland's tenure in Westwood has come to an end.
Howland has been notified that he is being fired, two sources confirmed to Yahoo! Sports on Saturday afternoon. An official announcement from UCLA is expected to come within the next 48 hours.
Ben Howland reacts to a call during the NCAA tournament. (AP)
"He had an amazing turnaround this season, but he knew he was going to be fired a long time ago," a source close to Howland said.
Second-year assistant coach Korey McCray will at least temporarily remain on staff and run the program during the coaching search, a source said. McCray was instrumental in the recruitment of freshmen Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, all of whom UCLA would surely like to have remain in the program under the new coach.
Howland's firing comes on the heels of a season in which UCLA won the Pac-12 regular season title but fell 83-63 to 11th-seeded Minnesota on Friday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament. It was the fifth consecutive season the Bruins have not advanced past the NCAA tournament's opening weekend.
Hired in 2003 to bring discipline and defensive principles to a UCLA program lacking in both those areas under predecessor Steve Lavin, Howland enjoyed tremendous success during the first half of his tenure. His blue-collar, defensive-minded teams lost to national champion Florida in the 2006 national title game and the 2007 Final Four and to Memphis in the 2008 Final Four.
What led to the downturn in the program were a series of recruiting missteps and transfers.
Future all-Mountain West players Chace Stanback, Mike Moser and Drew Gordon were among the players who transferred out of the program. Howland also struggled to land the top Los Angeles players he had previously, instead resorting to taking a pair of junior college prospects and three castoffs from North Carolina and hiring the head of an Atlanta-based AAU program to try to help him bring in out-of-state talent.
The short-term fix resulted in a decorated 2012 recruiting class and a preseason top 15 ranking this season, but the Bruins still dealt with issues all season. Shabazz Muhammad was initially ruled ineligible by the NCAA before being reinstated in November, former starters Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb transferred early in the season and second-leading scorer Adams suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Pac-12 semifinals.
Interesting. I've always had his back but 4 straight disappointing years and a bunch of off court distractions and transfers. He'll get a solid job somewhere though.
I don't see UCLA as the same caliber of job it was 10 years ago. These are factors I see that are detrimental to UCLA having a shot at say Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart who are the top two up and coming coaching prospects.
1) Crappy sports town!
2) Cost of living and taxation of income in the ballpark of the UCLA's coach income would be about 65%. Could pay Stevens or Smart 3 mill a year though only 1 mill take home.
3) It's a pro sports town.
2) Deep pockets!
3) Cali has a very good talent pool to get talent from.
It's still a good job but it is not top 5 like it use to be , I would probably put it at the bottom of the top 10.
wow! as good as he was, he has really struggled. good move imo. even a little overdue. ucla needs someone new and howland needs a new program.
UCLA has struggled mightily for a few years in a row now and Howland is well known for being one of the dirtiest recruiters in college sports.
So who's out there for the bruins to snatch up?
I think the new man for this job is Jamie Dixon name has been mentioned with USC but why not take the UCLA job
jamie dixon just signed a deal with pit to keep him there for the next ten years.
My Fault guys just two days ago they said he was thinkin about the USC job but crazy 10 year deal wit Pitt
Can't say I'm surprised, I hadn't followed UCLA until this year because they hadn't had any top prospects, but his rotations were strange, he didn't have enough control of his players' shot selection and conditioning was an issue for several players during his tenure.
He didn't see to adjust very well in game and his system seems to have fallen apart.
I wish him all the best, but UCLA needs a new coach. I'm guessing Bazz is still out of there, but it'd be interesting to see what he'd do in another system.
Not good for my youngbul Rysheed Jordan, now he might have to go to a Temple team that is rebuilding and will rely on him to much.. If him along with the already committed Levine both go to UCLA next year, they will be really good.. I guess Kyle is gone tho
I think it's great for Jordan he should of went to Temple in the first place and so should of Amile Jefferson. Instead they both wanna go to powerhouses where they're gonna be overlooked, when they could be part of a great program at Temple. Imagine what Temple would look like this year with Amile Jefferson on that roster and Rysheed Jordan taking over for Wyatt never year.
I would throw lots of money at Shaka Smart or Brad Stevens.
I wouldn't go overboard with discrediting Ben this year. I mean they started 3 freshman and won the PAC 12 and finished the year top 25. Rhe last 2 losses were without a very key player in secondleading scorer Jordan Adams. I think the bruins made the decision already before the year but didnt want to disrupt what was turning into a great recruiting class so they let him have one last chance.
I thought they overachieved this yr given their lack of experience and depth. Even if they backed into it, they still won the regular season Pac-12.
He tweaked his system and made the proper adjustments since these kids couldn't execute, run intricate stuff or defend.
I personally think that Bill Walton's little rant on live TV was the nail in the coffin for Howland. I think he got a raw deal, but he'll be in demand.
to me, clearly Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens are the prize catches out there. Although I dont know if he would be on the list now and I dont know his contract situation...Tommy Amaker is a hell of a coach and he was a candidate to replace Lavin at UCLA when he was fired.
I think Andy Enfield out of FGCU will be a hot name this summer.
His team plays a well coached, but exciting brand of basketball.
What does this mean for the players and recruits?
if shaka smart is willing, they should snag him for sure. if not, why not roll the dice on the legend himself? kareem abdul jabbar said he is interested in coaching. i bet kids would want to play for him. i bet he has a bit of coaching skills.
that would indeed be a roll of the dice. I am not keen on guys with no college coaching experience....especially coming from the world of NBA coaching. much safer going with someone with a proven track record in the collegiate ranks.
UCLA is a top job but I wonder what the perception is like right now.
Thinking outside the box: I would give Kareem a call. He wants a coaching job and
He is a UCLA icon. Maybe KAJ can get the blue chip bigs.
Get him and then put some solid floor coaches around him.
Getting Kareem would shake things up and give the program some buzz.
I thought about, hey give Phil Jackson a call but be is pretty old and this job needs
Kareem is definitely worth a shot. He is also highly respected.
Kareem is an old awkward dude who no coaching experience. The fact that he's been whining about no get coaching experience makes him even less desirable IMO. Why not work your way up through a smaller program? Does it have to be a NBA team, Bruins or nothing?
This is a matter of Howland not being able to take the program back to national prominence. UCLA won't accept one-and-done in the tournament, and rightfully so.