Ben Howland: Coach Ben Howland & UCLA

March 1, 2012 by staff 

Ben Howland: Coach Ben Howland & UCLA, The most stunning part of the story is that it wasn’t stunning. Sports Illustrated’s expose on the UCLA basketball program, which hit the web Wednesday, will be no surprise to anyone who has watched the Bruins slowly decay in the four years since their last Final Four appearance.

Ben Howland is cold! Reeves Nelson was a knucklehead! The team has been dragged down by bad players and bad guys! Stop the presses! UCLA should actually be sighing in relief that one of SI’s best reporters could spend two months digging into a marquee team located in a glitzy city and come up with zero NCAA violations, zero academic fraud, zero wrongdoing other than the usual idiot college partying.

The core of this story is an old story — Ben Howland has recruited some bad characters and failed to control them.

The truth of the UCLA program is the same as it was 48 hours ago: if Howland doesn’t win next season in flashy new Pauley Pavilion with a hot new group of recruits, he’s gone.

This story doesn’t run him out any sooner. It shouldn’t run him out any sooner. Three consecutive Final Fours should buy him at least five years to do it again, and just because the world now knows the depths of his fall shouldn’t alter his timeline for redemption.

Although, you sort of wonder. That rush of cold air at Howland’s back Wednesday morning was the sudden departure of Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, who seemingly fled to safer turf and appeared unwilling to take Howland with him.

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