Florida Gulf Coast University Coach Andy Enfield smiles during a game with… (Rob Carr / Getty Images )
Writers from around Tribune Co. offer their ideas about who would be the perfect choice as the next UCLA men's basketball coach. Feel free to join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times
The perfect coach for UCLA would be a combination of its last two coaches: Steve Lavin and Ben Howland. Lavin had the public relations skills that Howland woefully lacked, and Howland had the intensity and discipline that Lavin was too young to administer.
I have just the guy.
UCLA needs to think outside the three-point lane and not be afraid to hire someone who does not fit the overrated UCLA "mold." I would forget Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens and go after Andy Enfield of Florida Gulf Coast University. You can just hear the alums screaming, "We can't hire a coach from Florida Gulf Coast!"
Really? In 1948, UCLA hired a relative unknown from Martinsville, Ind., who seemed to work out fine. Forget about the "FGCU" on the shirts and watch how the Eagles play. They fly up and down the court but are also well coached. In fact, Enfield's effort against Georgetown was one of the best single-game coaching jobs in NCAA history.
Here's the key component: Many coaches are scared off by the cost of living in L.A. and the Hollywood culture. That won't be a problem for Enfield, who made millions on Wall Street before he pursued his passion for coaching. His wife is a former model who would light up the scoreboard, so to speak, and you could see this power couple walking comfortably down Rodeo Drive with their gourmet coffees and souped-up baby stroller as they make their way toward an oxygen bar.
Enfield could be the Pat Riley of Westwood, the "Power Broker of Pauley" -- Jim Murray wrote John Wooden was so square he was divisible by four. Enfield would represent the new UCLA model: court-side cool and visible by everyone.
David Teel, Newport News Daily Press
UCLA's central-casting coach is no stranger to exaggerated expectations. He understands them. Most important, he embraces them. Three Final Fours but no banner in 10 years like Ben Howland? Not good enough. Befitting the Hollywood aura, the ideal candidate is an A-list personality with an oversized ego, designer wardrobe and unassailable recruiting chops.
Translation: He's John Calipari, who's taken Massachusetts, Memphis and Kentucky to the Final Four, the latter to last season's national championship. But Calipari wouldn't bail on the bluegrass for L.A.'s bright lights, would he? Bruins Athletic Director Dan Guerrero ought to inquire, and when told no, he then can scan his list, paper or mental, for the next best thing.
VCU's Shaka Smart? Butler's Brad Stevens? Like Calipari, they may not be interested.
[Updated at 12:46 p.m.:
Iliana Limón Romero, Orlando Sentinel
UCLA is searching for a new coach at a difficult time. There is no shortage of energetic and successful coaches at relatively lower profile schools, but many of them are shunning the opportunities at what were once perceived to be elite jobs because they recognize the higher expectations and lack of job security. It sure seems as though VCU’s Shaka Smart, Butler’s Brad Stevens, Gonzaga’s Mark Few and New Mexico’s Steve Alford are staying put.
Florida Gulf Coast’s Andy Enfield is one of the hottest coaches this March and certainly wouldn’t be a bad choice. UCLA could have a good shot at plucking away SEC coaches who have recruited relatively well and coached successful programs. Before Smart thrived at VCU, Anthony Grant led the team to an upset of Duke. He boasts a .623 winning percentage, keeping the Crimson Tide competitive at Alabama. Ole Miss Coach Andy Kennedy also has done well, turning in a .639 career winning percentage.]
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