More questions about Howland's job security
After 11 games, 8-3 UCLA is better off than they were at this time last year, posting a 6-5 mark a year ago.
Unfortunately for head coach Ben Howland, better doesn't account for much when you're the leader of the UCLA men's basketball team.
Howland extended himself quite a lifeline by guiding the Bruins to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08. The lifeline could've been a lot longer had he been able to win the whole thing during one of those trips.
They don't hang up Final Four banners inside Pauley Pavilion – the new or old building, for that matter – only national championship banners.
UCLA takes pride in the 11 such banners they currently have. If you attend a game at the new Pauley, the Bruins rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas includes a mention of their 11 National Championships instead of the "11 Pipers Piping” line. But 1995 was the last addition to the championship banners.
Since advancing to those three Final Fours, the Bruins have qualified for the NCAA Tournament just two times in the last four seasons.
It begs the question how much rope does Howland still have on that lifeline? Earlier this week, Scout.com reported Howland could be coaching his last games with the Bruins.
The report cites sources within the program that say they’re leaning toward replacing Howland and could even do it before the end of the season.
The Bruins head coach had a chance to respond to the report during a conference call on Friday ahead of the Bruins matchup with Fresno State on Saturday.
“(In) this profession you’re always going to have things written (about you),” Howland said. “(I’m) doing everything I can to help this team improve and grow to become the best team it can become and help the players and individuals grow to become the best players they can.”
Howland said he heard about the report but didn’t pay any attention to it. He also said he hasn’t had any talks with athletic director Dan Guerrero about his future.
There were similar rumors at the end of last season. Guerrero, at that time, said Howland was safe. It didn't hurt that he was working on the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
However, there were more than just basketball issues that caused rumors to swirl last season.
There was a scathing Sports Illustrated article that came out depicting Howland and the UCLA program in a negative light.
Howland called it the most taxing season of his coaching career.
Players have continued to transfer out of the program in a large amount sparking the question, why?
Two more players, Tyler Lamb and Joshua Smith, left this season raising the total to 11 players in the last four years.
Meanwhile, despite having a roster with a current rotation of eight players, just making it to the NCAA Tournament may not be enough for Howland to remain at the school.
According to the Scout.com report, it’s not a given that Howland will be let go. If Howland can get the program back to the level of success they enjoyed during the Final Four runs, it will be hard to get rid of him.
Anything short of that is sure to raise more questions.