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THE FIRING LINE: HARRICK OUSTED AT UCLA | THE CANDIDATES

This Search Party May Take Some Time

College basketball: Romar might not be on Dalis' list, but Montgomery probably is.

November 07, 1996|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hiring coaches is all about timing, Athletic Director Peter T. Dalis said Wednesday, and suddenly, he has all the time in the world.

A passel of big-name coaches flirted with, then rejected UCLA in Dalis' last two major searches--in 1988 to replace Walt Hazzard and last winter to replace Terry Donahue.

Dalis said he will spend this season evaluating the best candidates, including interim Coach Steve Lavin.

Who, other than Lavin, might be on his short list?

1. Lorenzo Romar, a four-year assistant under Harrick who just took over the Pepperdine program. Romar was long considered a major contender to succeed Harrick whenever that happened, but that status seemed to slip when he left UCLA and then he and Dalis feuded over the transfer of omm'A Givens from UCLA to Pepperdine and several other minor incidents.

"I don't know if the timing's right," Dalis said of Romar. "Lorenzo, I would hope, would be a candidate. I don't know if he will be."

Dalis, who agreed that he was upset at Romar, says the two have talked and there are no longer any problems.

"We've talked," Dalis said. "I was trying to protect the UCLA program, he was trying to protect the Pepperdine program, that's what people do."

Romar, meanwhile, said the timing probably is wrong: "It's crossed my mind. No doubt about it. But that's not where I'm at. I'm here."

2. Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery, who has no UCLA ties but has begun to recruit strongly in Southern California and has an admitted fan in Dalis.

For a program that is now super-sensitive to potential trouble, Montgomery is lily-clean and might be tempted to jump to a program where he can compete for a national title immediately.

3. The hot young coach at the end of the NCAA tournament who would demand much money and much wooing.

Dalis thinks UCLA, despite losing out in the past going after Jim Valvano, Larry Brown and Mike Krzyzewski in 1988 (before hiring Harrick) and Northwestern's Gary Barnett last winter for the football job (before hiring Bob Toledo), can compete.

"I think so," Dalis said. "Hell, we won a national championship 19 months ago, something I don't think anybody thought we were going to do."

4. A top-level, high-profile assistant, somebody such as Tommy Amaker of Duke, or Matt Doherty of Kansas.

5. Larry Brown of . . . let's see this week, the Indiana Pacers, who coached UCLA to the Final Four in 1980, left with the NCAA on his heels, then almost came back eight years later.

"Boy, I have no idea," Dalis said. "I think he's always mentioned, it's something like the coming of the fall."

*

Times staff writer Jim Hodges contributed to this story.

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