UCLA Head Coach Rumors: Virginia's Tony Bennett Coveted by Bruins

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2019

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - FEBRUARY 02: Head coach Tony Bennett of the Virginia Cavaliers reacts to a play in the second half during a game against the Miami Hurricanes at John Paul Jones Arena on February 2, 2019 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images)
Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

As they look for a permanent replacement for Steve Alford, the UCLA Bruins have Tony Bennett near the top of their wish list.

Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reported UCLA "covets" the Virginia Cavaliers head coach but that hiring Bennett would be anything but a sure thing for the Bruins.

Thamel wrote that Bennett has "already turned down plenty of more established programs" and "enjoys attention as much as J.D. Salinger, which wouldn't make the bright lights of LA very appealing."

Thamel went on to throw out Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton and former Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg as possibilities. He expressed skepticism about Walton, positing Walton may instead want to go to the Arizona Wildcats, where Sean Miller appears to be on shaky ground. Hoiberg, on the other hand, might be the "safest bet" of the top contenders for the Bruins' vacancy.

Bennett doesn't really have a compelling reason to leave Virginia, even for a school as prestigious as UCLA.

The Cavaliers have yet to advance past the Elite Eight under his watch, but that's a combination of bad luck and the unpredictable nature of the NCAA tournament. Bennett has Virginia at a place where it can challenge for an ACC title on an annual basis.

At the same time, the fanbase won't be in an uproar if the team falls short in March. Stadium's Jeff Goodman highlighted that point as a reason why UCLA may struggle to poach a star-level head coach:

With Alford at the helm, the Bruins reached three Sweet 16s in five seasons before the team fired him midway through this year. A number of UCLA fans never truly warmed to Alford, and that impacted the general atmosphere around the program.

That's something that may not have gone unnoticed by Bennett in the event UCLA ever made a formal approach.

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