Report: UVA Coach Tony Bennett 'Has Not Said No Yet' to UCLA Basketball Job

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2019

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett directs his players during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Monday, Feb. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Gerry Broome/Associated Press

Virginia Cavaliers basketball coach Tony Bennett reportedly hasn't ruled out the possibility of becoming the next coach at UCLA. 

Adam Zagoria cited a source who said the Bruins "are going hard after Tony Bennett, and he has not said no yet."

This comes after Yahoo Sports' Pete Thamel reported on Feb. 7 the Pac-12 school "covets" the Virginia coach, although he suggested it is a long shot and pointed out, "he's already turned down plenty of more established programs in favor of the elite program he's established in Charlottesville. Also, Bennett enjoys attention as much as J.D. Salinger, which wouldn't make the bright lights of L.A. very appealing."

Zagoria noted one UCLA source said the "only issue with Bennett is the grinding pace" he prefers.

According to Ken Pomeroy's pace-adjusted rankings, the Cavaliers are last (353rd) in the country in tempo this season. While that slow style of play may frustrate some, it is difficult to argue with the results.

Bennett is in his 10th season with Virginia and sports a 240-88 record. He has three regular-season ACC titles, two conference tournament titles and six NCAA tournament appearances, although he has left fans wanting in March at times. Despite the regular-season success, the Cavaliers haven't reached the Final Four during his tenure.

They also became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season.

Still, Virginia's success would be a significant improvement over UCLA of late. The Bruins are just 13-12 this season and appear nowhere near NCAA tournament contention after they fired Steve Alford in December. The historically dominant program also hasn't been to the Final Four since 2008.

UCLA's spot near the top of the college basketball hierarchy with a record 11 national championships can't be debated, but Virginia has been more competitive on a national stage during Bennett's tenure.

Zagoria noted former Chicago Bulls and Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg, Cincinnati Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin, Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski and Houston's Kelvin Sampson are also being considered.

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