Michigan basketball is a better job than UCLA

Not to brag, but I know how to read. I try to get my hands on one book a year, and that mostly ends unsuccessfully, but I do read a lot of sports articles mostly right before bed. Puts me right to sleep. And because I am a better sports fan than you, I do subscribe to The Athletic. Again, not to brag.

Earlier this week, I read some of the fallout from John Beilein leaving Michigan for the NBA and saw an article on College Sports Maven saying Michigan is still a worse job than UCLA. Then I heard CBS Sports college hoops fella Matt Norlander make the same statement during his Eye on College Basketball Podcast.

If this was the 1970s, absolutely. 1980s? Sure. 1990s? Ehh, probably. 2000s? No doubt. Things have changed since the mid-2000s, and this latest UCLA coaching search proved just that.

UCLA fired Steve Alford 13 games into last season on New Year’s Eve. Harsh way to put an end to his 2018. Regardless, UCLA had several months to find its next head coach, and it ended up as a complete disaster.

The program was used by John Calipari and Rick Barnes for pay raises at their current jobs. Nearly 4 months went by without a head coach, and UCLA ultimately landed an unexciting hire with Mick Cronin, which is a strange fit.

Given the timing of Beilein’s exit, Michigan will have much less time to find its head coach and should find somebody better than Cronin within a matter of weeks.

The Wolverines should cast a wide net with their coaching search because the program is as consistent as it gets in college basketball. UCLA is not.

State of the programs

Has anyone seen what UCLA basketball has done recently? The Bruins missed the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years (losing in the First Four doesn’t count). This is even more embarrassing considering how bad the Pac-12 is operating these days.

Luckily a lot of UCLA games are on the Pac-12 Network, which I still remain skeptical actually exists.

Meanwhile, Michigan plays in a much tougher conference and secured back-to-back 30-plus win seasons. In five of the last seven years, the Wolverines reached at least the Sweet 16 including a pair of runs to the national title game.

Michigan is likely losing Charles Matthews and Jordan Poole as well as potentially Ignas Brazdeikis to the NBA Draft, but the Wolverines still bring back talent next year with Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers.

Like Michigan, UCLA might have to replace its top three scorers with Kris Wilkes, Jalen Hands and Moses Brown headed to the NBA.

From a recruiting standpoint, Michigan 4-star signee Jalen Wilson re-opened his recruitment after Beilein left but said the Wolverines are still an option. Michigan signed another 4-star guy in the 2019 class and another committed for 2020.

UCLA has a 4-star and a 3-star signed for 2019 with no commits from anybody in future classes.


UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion (12,829) and Michigan’s Crisler Center (13,751) have relatively similar capacities. In last year’s attendance, the Wolverines had an average crowd of 12,504 people show up to their home games. UCLA had 8,269.

You might be thinking well that’s because UCLA had such an awful year. Well, attendance numbers were even lower in Alford’s first two seasons when the Bruins made the Sweet 16.

The public interest in UCLA basketball isn’t what it used to be.

Conference cash

A recent report stated the Big Ten makes the most money out of every conference in the country, surpassing the SEC thanks to its most recent massive TV deals. Now that the good guy John Beilein is out of town, Michigan could join the rest of college basketball and start paying players.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12 is currently looking for somebody to pay them $750 million to take care of its TV deal. Not great.

Michigan has significantly more money to work with in its athletic department than UCLA does. The financial gap will continue to grow year by year unless something drastic happens.

The pressure

UCLA is entering the Mick Cronin era with everybody understanding he was nowhere near the top of the list of candidates. Fans have to be skeptical of Cronin right from the beginning for that alone.

Remember, this is a fan base fed up with Ben Howland after three straight Final Four runs. Not that anybody is expecting that level of greatness right away, but it should be noted how irrational the UCLA faithful can be.

Meanwhile for Michigan, it’s a football school. It always has been and always will be. As long as Wolverine football is beating Ohio State, they’re happy over there. Okay, that hasn’t gone well recently, but anything Michigan basketball does is an added bonus for the common Wolverine fan.

For many years, UCLA was the premier job in college basketball, but it’s surpassed by many programs over the past decade. And that is absolutely the case with Michigan.

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