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Nothing goes up on the Pauley Pavilion walls except national championship banners. No Pac-12 titles, no Final Fours.
Into this setting walks a head coach who only made a Sweet 16 at Missouri State in 1999. Since then, Steve Alford has piloted three teams that earned No. 3 seeds in the Big Dance, only to drop out to two No. 14 seeds and a No. 11.
UCLA fans are very aware of Alford's failings, and some writers have the knives out. The Los Angeles Times' Bill Dwyre called Alford's massive contract "sewage." SB Nation's UCLA blog, Bruins Nation, is unflinchingly cataloging all of Alford's losses in the search for a long-term solution at point guard, including the aforementioned loss of Jordan McLaughlin to USC.
Talent is still evident, with veterans David and Travis Wear returning along with talented sophomores Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. The Bruins will be primary challengers to favored Arizona, but as mentioned before, does anyone in Westwood care if there's not a national title in the offing?
There is no bigger shadow in college sports than John Wooden's, and even Ben Howland's three Final Fours couldn't keep him from going stale. Perhaps in some perverse manner, Bruins Nation christening Alford the "Hoosier Loser" could lessen the pressure? The media may not expect a lot from Alford, but everyone connected with UCLA expects championships.
After all, nothing else is worth commemorating.
For more from Scott on college basketball, check out The Back Iron. Now playing: the Conference Calling 2013-14 preview series.