A day after saying reports that head coach Ben Howland has been fired were false, UCLA made it official Sunday night. Howland has been fired.
Howland's dismissal immediately kicks the coaching rumor mill into high gear, as we talked about yesterday. Because of his Los Angeles ties and former work as an assistant at UCLA, Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar will be linked to this opening repeatedly.
That started Sunday night almost immediately after the news that Howland was fired became official. CBS' Jeff Goodman says Romar is the "realistic" pick for the spot and his colleague Jeff Borzello selects Romar as "who he thinks gets it", though his reasons ("played in the NBA") don't much add up.
ESPN's Andy Katz says he has sources that tell him Romar "would listen" but "it might be hard for UCLA to look at Romar, who currently runs a Pac-12 program that has hit a downward cycle recently..."
Romar has been linked to the UCLA job (and others) in the past. In 1996, the Bruins hired Steve Lavin and in 2003 Howland. Romar was rumored each time. He has even been rumored for NBA jobs, like he was in 2011 when he became linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
So, prepare for a few days of Romar's name being thrown around.
Back to Howland. Here's the press release from the Bruins:
LOS ANGELES – The University of California Los Angeles has relieved Head Men’s Basketball Coach Ben Howland of his duties effective immediately and a national search for his successor has begun. Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero informed Coach Howland of the decision this afternoon.
“I want to thank Ben for all that he has done for UCLA in his ten seasons in Westwood,” Guerrero said. “He embraced our tradition and culture and produced some terrific teams and coached a number of wonderful young men. We wish Ben and his family all the best as they move onto a new chapter in their lives.”
In 10 seasons in Westwood, Howland compiled a 233-107 record, with seven NCAA Tournament berths, including a string of three Final Fours from 2006-2008.
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach at UCLA for 10 years and I will always be grateful to Dan Guerrero and Chancellors Block, Abrams and Carnesale for the opportunity to coach and teach our players and work alongside tremendous coaches,” Howland said. “The UCLA community and fans have been unbelievable to my family and I, and it’s been an honor and privilege to represent this great institution. I look forward to what comes next.”