I am not a "Bruin Basher" or a "Howland Hater."
I am not a "Pot-Stirrer," and the voices in my head told me that I'm not delusional.
I am well aware that UCLA has won three straight games, the last one being against Cal-Davis on Saturday to bring the Bruins to .500 for the first time this season.
It is very possible—even likely—that Ben Howland's erratic group will beat both Cal-Irvine (2-8) and Richmond (6-5) before opening Pac-12 play on the road against Stanford and Cal.
But all of this doesn't change a few things:
The Bruins are homeless, having to play all of their "home" games at either the L.A. Sports Arena or any of a number of SoCal venues until the venerable Pauley Pavillion receives its makeover.
Ben Howland had to dismiss his best returning player, Reeves Nelson, for a variety of behavior issues.
Howland's last two-plus years have been lackluster to say the least (42-34).
In early November, before the Bruins got off to their 2-5 start, I asked the question, "Is it too early to put Ben Howland on the hot seat?"
There's a lot of ball to play in the 2011-12 season, but if things don't improve throughout this year, I maintain that Howland could be on the hot seat.
Here are six coaches who would be legitimate replacement candidates if UCLA decides to move on and fire Ben Howland at the end of this season.
Shaka Smart has burst onto the college basketball coaching scene in his first two-plus seasons at VCU.
Currently, he has a 62-24 record, helping the Rams win the CBI Championship and taking them to last years' Final Four.
Smart's teams employ full-court, man-to-man pressure on defense. They push the ball at every chance on offense and pull up to take threes in the open court.
If Smart leads Virginia Commonwealth on another magical March Madness run, you can bet that some high-end programs (like UCLA?) will come knocking on Shaka's door.
Scott Drew has proven that he can rebuild a college basketball program.
When Drew took over in 2003, no place needed more of an overhaul than Baylor did after an incredible series of events that left the program nearly wiped out.
Drew's overall record at Baylor is 134-116, with the Bears going 100-47 over the last four-plus seasons.
Drew has proven himself to be an elite-level recruiter, bringing in some of the top players in the country over the last three recruiting classes.
This is no small accomplishment when you consider that he's asking players to come to Waco, TX.
What could a coach like Drew do recruiting-wise if he was at a school like UCLA?
The last time UCLA chose a coach who was a multi-year All-American from a college in Indiana (John Wooden was a three-time All-American selection at Purdue in the 30s), things worked out pretty well, right?
But seriously, Steve Alford has a more-than-respectable resume over his 20-plus years as a head coach
His 414-224 overall record is solid, and he has gone 106-41 since showing up in Albuquerque.
If New Mexico makes a deep run in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, don't be surprised if Alford's name is out there for some big-time jobs.
Jamie Dixon has had great success at Pitt.
He has averaged 27 wins per season over his eight years as the Panthers head coach.
His teams have gone to the NCAA Tournament every year, and they are usually competing for the Big East title.
Dixon has SoCal roots. He was born in Burbank, and he started his collegiate coaching career at Los Angeles Valley Community College before becoming an assistant coach at UC-Santa Barbara.
All of this would sound promising, but one thing that could negate all of this is his prior connection with Ben Howland.
If UCLA is looking to go a different direction, Dixon could be disregarded because he served as Howland's assistant at both Northern Arizona and at Pittsburgh.
Could any self-respecting coaching discussion be considered official until Brad Stevens' name is thrown out there?
I think not.
Stevens has posted one of the best records of all time for a college basketball coach in the first four-plus years of his career.
He has taken Butler to the NCAA Championship Game twice and has posted a 122-31 record—a fantastic 79.7 winning percentage.
Stevens doesn't seem to have a great desire to move on from being the Bulldogs head coach. He could stay at Butler a long time.
But I'm not sure that he has been offered a job like UCLA's yet.
Any program in the country would love to have Mark Few as its next head coach.
The problem is that Few seems to be perfectly content with coaching the Zags.
During Few's 12-plus seasons at Gonzaga, he has posted a 322-86 record.
The Bulldogs have made it to the NCAA Tournament every year and have the national reputation of being a giant-killer.
Few is an exceptional evaluator and developer of talent.
Many teams have tried to pry Few away from the Spokane, WA campus. No one has been successful.
If UCLA came calling, could he refuse or would he accept?