UPDATE (11:06am): Alford has been fired, and Murry Bartow has been named interim head coach for the rest of the season, per Jon Rothstein and multiple others.
UCLA has officially fired Steve Alford as its head basketball coach, per release. Murry Bartow will serve as interim for the rest of the season.— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) December 31, 2018
UCLA basketball head coach Steve Alford was fired on Monday morning, according to multiple reports, which Yahoo! college basketball analyst Pat Forde confirmed with a tweet that the firing will be confirmed later today.
Can confirm the multiple reports that Steve Alford will be terminated today at UCLA. When Black Monday extends to college basketball, it's a shock.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) December 31, 2018
As with all head coach firings, it’s tradition to immediately begin speculating about who will replace said disgraced head coach, and with UCLA’s opening being a big one in the college basketball landscape, rumors are flying.
Jeff Borzello of ESPN and Rob Dauster of NBC Sports have both published a potential candidate list for the UCLA vacancy that includes TCU head coach Jamie Dixon. Here’s what they both had to say.
Jamie Dixon is a native of Southern California that has turned TCU from the laughing stock of the Big 12 in to a program that won the NIT in 2017, reached the NCAA tournament in 2018 and has started out this season 11-1.
Dixon’s name has generated significant buzz over the past few weeks. He’s a North Hollywood native and is very close with Howland; whether that’s a good or bad thing for UCLA’s prospects of landing him remains unclear. Dixon simply wins games. He reached the NCAA tournament in 11 of 13 seasons at Pittsburgh, and is on his way to his second berth in three years at TCU. He might not have the personality of a Donovan, but he turned things around quickly with the Horned Frogs and has a stellar reputation. TCU does pay him $3.2 million per year, meaning UCLA would need to offer a raise. - Jeff Borzello
Borzello goes on to predict that UCLA will offer Dixon a raise (Dixon currently makes $3.2 million, according to Borzello’s article, but TCU doesn’t release salary figures for its coaches), and that Dixon will accept and move on from TCU.
Bruins Nation, SB Nation’s UCLA team site, also mentions Jamie Dixon as a possible candidate. Dimitri Dorlis, however, notes something that Borzello and Dauster both omit from their articles.
Dixon has LA ties, having grown up in the area and started his college coaching career at LA Valley CC and UC Santa Barbara as an assistant. Dixon took over at Pittsburgh when Ben Howland came to UCLA, and put together a 328–123 record over 13 seasons. In that time, the Panthers never had a losing record, and averaged 25 wins over his tenure. He left Pitt to take over at his alma mater TCU, where in 2018 he got the Horned Frogs to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1998. The Horned Frogs have improved each year under Dixon, and have raced out to an 11-1 start to this season.
Dorlis goes on to say that, while Dixon will likely be a top target for UCLA, “he’s pretty locked into his alma mater at the moment.”
Rivals.com writer Eric Bossi also has Dixon on his list of potential candidates, and he takes a peek at what Dixon has done on the recruiting trail.
No, he’s not recruited the SoCal area, but what Dixon has done on the recruiting trail speaks for itself. During his time at Pitt, he landed 27 Rivals150 prospects (14 four and five five-star) and he’s had unprecedented recruiting success at TCU where he’s already landed nine four-star prospects at a program that had landed one prior to his arrival in the spring of 2016.
It makes sense that Dixon’s name would come up, after what he’s done in two and a half seasons at TCU. And for a job like UCLA, I’m sure the net will be cast pretty wide, and may people will be interested.
However, it’s all just pure speculation and guesswork on the part of college basketball writers at this point. It’s likely that UCLA will finish out the season with an interim, unless they find a head coach that’s willing to bail on his current school just days ahead of conference play.