I have read the story on UCLA and Ben Howland in SI. There are a lot avenues to look at in this intriguing piece by George Dohrmann. There is way too much quote from the article here, so I will just offer my observations/opinions.
Heck this article isn't even complete because it didn't discuss Dragovic.
Some will say that Dohrmann has out for Howland and UCLA. Regardless, there is some pretty damning stuff here. Maybe not NCAA stuff, but character stuff that was supposedly Howland's calling card.
Players fight, but the actions by Reeves Nelson is pure intimidation.
Yes, players smoke dope, do blow and pop pills...some even drop acid, but a lot of college kids do, not just athletes.
Were there NCAA violations? Who was the rich UCLA fan that threw the party and possibly provided transportation or "VIP Treatment"?
Is that rich UCLA fan the next Sam Gilbert?
How does Ben Howland NOT interact more with his players? How does Howland not become more of a mentor and a firm hand on molding these young men? UCLA fans love to point fingers at Pete Carrol and his "loose" program. But the fact is Howland looks worse because it would appear that he was ambivalent. At least Pete Carroll engaged his players to have fun, both on and off the field.
The stunts Carroll would pull, the pranks Carroll would play on players is far different than Howland leaving when his players do their free throw drills at the end of practice.
In all honesty, I really don't care about UCLA players partying. I did my fair share of partying before joining the service...it is almost a right of passage. I know some will disagree.
Partying is what college kids do, I get it. Whether or not I agree with the actions of Howland's players, the fact is college kids want to have fun.
But for all we have heard about how stellar a person Ben Howland is, this is definitely a mortar strike on his reputation.
So much for being "the caretaker" of Wooden's program.
It is hard to know the whole truth in all of this, but it is pretty clear that Howland lost control of this team a while ago. Howland has shown that he is an enabler...far different than the picture that had been painted by our friends at Bruins Nation early on...you know, the whole "Ben Ball Warriors" mantra.
They were warriors alright...
I guess you can say that once the warts start to show opinions change.
Howland's action (or inaction) with regards to how he managed (or enabled) certain players really says a lot about Howland.
Howland comes off as petty in this piece. Firing a student manager after Howland berated the kid into telling the truth about players partying shows the clown that Howland is.
There will be some that will call this a hit piece on Howland, I can see that. But the fact is when Reeves Nelson admitted to urinating on a fellow teammates clothes and Reeves intentional targeting of certain teammates in practice in order to injure them, only to have Howland do nothing about it, says a lot.
John Wooden must be doing cartwheels in his grave. But then again Wooden was the master at looking the other way, so maybe Howland is just carrying on the tradition. Wooden's saving grace was that he won, Howland not so much.
Howland has a little Neuheisel in him...a great ability to recruit talent, but has trouble coaching them up. After his Final Four teams, have Howland's teams lived up to expectations? He certainly isn't recruiting character guys after reading this piece.
I could go on....
I recommend reading EVERY post at BN on this.
If not for some pretty good takes then for the absolute meltdown in some of the comments.
For me it is easy...For all we have read from UCLA fans on various blogs and boards, UCLA is no different than any other school. No matter how bad they want to believe they are different, or above it all, UCLA is just another school with problems in their athletic program. Expectations are not always met and for all the hype some players and coaches aren't all that.
Reading your thoughts should be a real hoot!