What was not unexpected, however, was that Howland left UCLA, and Pauley Pavilion, with total class. Courting the press during a press conference that allowed him to bid farewell, it was telling that Athletic Director Dan Guerrero didn't even have the balls to attend, having fired the man with the most conference championships since John Wooden. Because even though the move to fire Howland was predestined and probably appropriate at this time, and the opportunity was there to present UCLA with grace and dignity, it was only Howland who rose to the occasion.
Guerrero, as expected, was absent in both presence as well as class.
Now, I will admit, I am biased. I have had the opportunity to meet Howland one on one and found him an engaging and compelling individual, a hard-nosed yet fair coach, and a man of integrity. I hoped this season would have ended better, and I truly believe that if not for the fateful broken foot to Jordan Adams in the PAC-12 tournament win vs. Arizona, it likely would have ended better. And though the last seven seasons have been underwhelming for the Bruins, i have appreciated Howland's hand as coach.
Only a class act like Howland could remove the absolute anarchy of Steve Lavin's tenure. As disappointing as Howland's era ended, I would not want to see the streetball lack of coaching that constituted his predecessor's reign.
So I rooted for Coach Howland, and hoped he would have achieved more, but it didn't turn out that way. And I couldn't watch Friday night's game, but I'm disappointed to have read (from Plaschke, so I won't be linking) that the Bruins didn't even put up much of an effort against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota (who promptly lost their next game against Florida, AND fired their coach as well).
I'm sorry that things didn't work out for Howland at the end. I'm appreciative of his leadership and unwavering integrity, not putting up with bullshit from Reeves Nelson, and not taking the easy path to trash people on his way out the door.
And though I'm disappointed with the end result of late, but more so in the school's administration, who should have treated a class act accordingly. I know Bruins Nation is killing Howland on his way out, and I tip my hat to the commenters over there who are trying to maintain decorum and treat Howland with the class he deserves, the respect he has earned.
So thank you, Coach Howland, for your decade at UCLA and for some great times. You've got a fan here no matter where you end up next.