Source: UCLA to Fire Howland; School Denies Firing (UPDATED)

PHILADELPHIA — Ben Howland will be fired as the head coach of UCLA, with an official announcement coming possibly as early as Sunday, a source with direct knowledge confirmed to SNY.tv.

The news was first reported by Alex Kline of The Recruit Scoop. Citing two sources, Yahoo! Sports later reported that Howland had been informed he was being fired.

“Contrary to multiple media reports this evening, UCLA has not fired men’s basketball coach Ben Howland,” UCLA Athletics spokesman Nick Ammazzalorso said in a statement.

The SNY.tv source said UCLA was looking to retain assistant coach Korey McCray, who was instrumental in recruiting freshmen Tony Parker and Jordan Adams.

“They don’t want them to transfer,” the source said.

Freshman wing Shabazz Muhammad is expected to turn pro and will likely be a top-five pick in the NBA Draft, while freshman Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony is undecided about his future, sources told SNY.tv.

Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, Mark Gottfried, Billy Donovan and Jay Wright are on UCLA’s wish list, the source said.

Smart and VCU were eliminated Saturday by Michigan, 78-53.

Earlier Saturday, Pitt announced that coach Jamie Dixon had been extended through 2022-23. A West Hollywood, Calif., native, Dixon has long been linked to openings on the West Coast.

Howland led UCLA to three straight Final Fours from 2006-08, but has been on the hot seat for at least a year.

He was given this year to coach his vaunted freshman class, and did lead the Bruins to the Pac-12 regular-season title. But UCLA was bounced in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Minnesota, 83-63, on Friday night.

UCLA legend Bill Walton has been a constant vocal critic of Howland, saying last month while calling a UCLA game on ESPN:

“I’m not in charge,” Walton said when asked if Howland’s time had run out in Westwood. “If I were, things would be different.”

Former UCLA great Reggie Miller told SNY.tv this month that Walton’s constant on-air criticism of Howland — which we documented in this earlier post — is “huge.”

“He’s a huge critic, but I mean that’s Bill Walton,” Miller said. “And he has a right to say that, a guy that’s been so big for the UCLA program. He’ll understand what it takes. I don’t know their relationship, but it’s huge when a Bill Walton comes out with those types of comments.”

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47 comments
amg5050
amg5050

I understand that Rex prefers, and coaches, a 3-4 defensive front. However, given, the Jets personnel, do you think a 4-3 would be more effective? I am thinking back to the 170's Houston Oilers coached by Bum Phillips. When asked, "How come you use a 3-4 alignment?" His answer was, "I've got three good defensive linemen and four good LB's." Meaning, adjust you scheme to the strengths of you personnel.

williamg1
williamg1

Bent, if you were offering each the same money, would you prefer Crabtree or Harvin? 

Brendan
Brendan

Just let Sheldon wear a jersey with a skull on crossbones on it, then. Problem solved!

a57se
a57se

Agreed on Teddy B looking better than geno. 

The audible to win the game was something geno would not have probably done.

jetlife
jetlife

Based on what we have seen from Percy, what is general feeling towards keeping him at his current contract. I would think if he were cut, he would rather go to another team than stay in a completely new offense, with a new OC, HC, and likely GM.

jsadolph
jsadolph

"Since I missed the play, how bad was that pick 6?

On a scale of Matt Schaub to Vinny Testaverde it was pretty Eli."

I had to laugh. Although Eli is a bit to high I would have to go with Jake Plummer.

williamg1
williamg1

@Brendan Seems like a good fit for Wisconsin. But why would he want that? Then again, wasnt it rumored that his dream job is BYU? 

What a bore. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@amg5050 I'd have hated to have been a backup on that Bum Phillips team!

Bent
Bent moderator

@amg5050


Rex's defense is more of a hybrid that actually has more in common with a 4-3 than a 3-4.  They play most of the time with four down linemen, which is probably an acknowledgement that the personnel suits that look more often.


williamg1
williamg1

@amg5050 But with Coples playing OLB, isn't he effectively playing 4 defensive linemen? 

Personally, I wish they'd go with my junior high defense (7-2) and get Ellis in the game. 

williamg1
williamg1

@Brendan I'm surprised Coples didn't get named to it with his decapitations. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Brendan


I ... don't know what that is?

DarrolRayFanClub
DarrolRayFanClub

Certainly not without his OC calling a timeout before the snap.

juunit
juunit

@jetlife 

I'm pretty much in agreement with what Bent said. If Harvin won't restructure his contract, he gets cut. If he's willing to reduce his salary to around 60% of what it is now, then he gets to stay. 

We simply can't pay a guy who has played 16 games once in a seven year career that kind of money. 


Especially since, I think we all agree, neither Harvin or Decker are really #1 WRs. They're both good #2's or maybe 1B's. Having them both locked in at big money for the long term could be a big mistake.

amg5050
amg5050

@Bent That was a great defense. And, the yearly battle with Pittsburgh was always exciting. Unfortunately, the Steelers were always just a bit better. As a backup you didn't see the field much.

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent Haha neither do I, but it sounds official. 

Brendan
Brendan

@juunit I'd be okay paying him something around or a little higher than what they pay Decker. The guy is so good, if he plays 14 games a year I can live with paying him $7-$8 million. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@juunit @jetlife Well, if they retain Harvin on his current deal, it's not really locked in at big money for the long term because they could release him after the season with no cap consequences.  And Decker in theory could be released after 2015 too.

juunit
juunit

@Brendan @juunit 

Having those two as the big money WRs really only works if you've got both a TE and RB who can pick up any slack in the receiving game. Especially since we're already locked into Kerley, any depth below WR3 is gonna be dirt cheap and therefore probably bad. Unless we can learn how to draft of course.

I guess for one year it could be a workable thing. But we wouldn't be getting Harvin for only one year if he restructured. 

Joe/Orlando
Joe/Orlando

@Bent @juunit @jetlife Not to mention we might be paying for better behavior with his current one-year-at-a-time deal. I'd consider going one more on the current deal and then trying to restructure if things are still good. Especially considering we might have a new coaching staff next year. 

juunit
juunit

@Bent @juunit @jetlife 

Still, $17m for two WRs when neither one is really that true #1 guy, even for one year, is too much. In 2010 Holmes and Edwards made more like $12m combined if I remember correctly.

We've got other holes to fill and it seems pretty clear they won't be getting filled through the draft. Gotta spread the wealth a bit. 

Brendan
Brendan

@williamg1 I mean, he's basically guaranteed to have a good team if he goes to Wisconsin, he runs their type of offense, he can use "I coached BEASTMODE" to recruit. Maybe he's like Schotty and will interview at a couple places, but not get the job? 


It makes sense, at least. It's a high-profile opening. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@marcus81 @Bent @williamg1 @amg5050 Definitely started to step it up over the last few weeks, sure, but until about a month or so ago he was on about the same standing as Dee Milliner.  Jets fans would have written him off as "always injured".

Brendan
Brendan

@juunit I think those two, plus Kerley, Amaro, Ivory, a good receiving RB (draft?) and a good 4th WR will be enough for a good QB to work with. But I also think I'm just higher on Harvin than you are, so that may be where the gap is. I'd love if they took another WR in the draft. Kerley is good, but he's not so good and not making so much that he can't be relegated to slot/4th WR. And depending on who the HC/OC are, they may need 4 good WR's for their offense. 

juunit
juunit

@Brendan @juunit 

I don't have a problem with Harvin's talent. It's just he misses too much time. And, if we do end up with Winston, both Harvin and Kerley getting lots of snaps would be bad. Winston is at his best throwing to tall receivers like Benjamin and O'Leary. Even if it's not Winston, an all-midget receiving corps isn't the greatest of ideas. It works for Brady, but even he still has Gronk.

I definitely think both another WR and a pass catching RB should be added somewhere between rounds 2-5. It's just, I have no confidence in our ability to find good ones. So I'm not real keen on the idea of relying on those picks to be big contributors in places I feel we really need improvement.