Steve Alford has a legitimate chance of leading UCLA to its first Final Four since 2008 and its first national title since 1995. But if he does – and even if he doesn’t – he’s likely out the door.
Alford is reportedly Indiana’s No. 1 option to replace Tom Crean, who was fired last week after nine seasons in Bloomington. If Alford is offered the job after the tournament, will he take it?
“Yeah, in all honesty, I (think he will),” FoxSports.com college basketball writer Aaron Torres said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “This reminds me almost of when Jim Harbaugh took the Michigan job where it just seemed like everything lined up perfect. The 49ers were ready to get rid of Jim Harbaugh, he obviously had the credibility, Michigan needed a coach, and Michigan was in that desperate situation where they were going to pay whatever it took to get relevant. They were like, ‘This is the guy. We need to go get him.’”
Harbaugh, though, was a proven winner both at Stanford and in the NFL, leading the 49ers to three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl appearance. Alford, on the other hand, has been to three of the last four Sweet 16s. That’s impressive, sure. But it isn’t awe-inspiring.
“Steve Alford certainly does have the resume that Jim Harbaugh did, but you just look at the timing of everything,” Torres said. “Indiana needs a coach, Alford is having unquestionably his best year, he’s going to lose the No. 1 pick in the draft, his son is graduating, and it’s an easy exit where he can go back to a place that he is an icon.”
Yes, it’s always nice to feel wanted – or, at the very least, not hated.
“Let’s never forget that a year ago at this time they were flying ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners over campus,” Torres said. “There’s still a ‘Fire Steve Alford’ page online somewhere. So to me, you just look at the timing of it all, it’s just too perfect. I think they’re going to offer him the job, and frankly, I think he’s going to accept it.”