Goodbye, 2016! Dan Guerrero Leads UCLA Athletics to an Historically Abysmal Year - Bruins Nation


Goodbye, 2016! Dan Guerrero Leads UCLA Athletics to an Historically Abysmal Year

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2016 was not a banner year for UCLA Athletics.

For only the fourth time since the 1981-82 season when the NCAA added 12 women's sports to its championship program, UCLA finished the calendar year without adding to its NCAA national championship total.

However, the totality of Dan Guerrero's incompetence in 2016 shouldn't be judged strictly by the Bruins' inability to capture another national title. In fact, in 2016, Dan Guerrero achieved a previously unattained trifecta of failure: for the very first time since UCLA won its first NCAA trophy in 1950, UCLA Athletics failed to win a national championship AND saw both of its revenue sports programs finish with losing records.

To fully appreciate the difficulty of this accomplishment, let's put each component of Guerrero's trifecta into proper context.

In the past fifty years, UCLA Men's Basketball has had just four losing seasons. All four of those losing seasons have occurred on Dan Guerrero's watch. Three of those four losing seasons were engineered by a Dan Guerrero-hired coach. Therefore, it's safe to say that Dan Guerrero has left his imprint on UCLA Men's Basketball.

UCLA Football has been a less reliable source of winning records during the past five decades. The Bruins have finished the year with a losing record 18 times during that span. Six of those losing seasons (2003, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2016) occurred during the 15 years Guerrero has been in charge of UCLA Athletics. In other words, UCLA Football has had a losing record 40% of the time with Guerrero at the helm.

Looking just at our revenue sports, in the past 50 years, UCLA Football and UCLA Men's Basketball have only posted losing records in the same calendar year three times:

  • 2003: Dorrell (6-7), Lavin (10-19)
  • 2010: Neuheisel (4-8), Howland (14-18)
  • 2016: Mora (4-8), Alford (15-17)
In the past 50 years, Dan Guerrero is the only UCLA AD who has managed to pair losing seasons in football and men's basketball. And for what it's worth, five of the six coaches involved in those double-losing seasons were hired by Dan Guerrero.

The final component of Guerrero's trifecta of failure is UCLA's inability to add to its national championship total in 2016. Putting that feat into proper historical context is difficult because the landscape of the NCAA's championship program has changed dramatically in the past five decades. Since the 1981-82 season when the NCAA added a dozen new championships for women's sports, UCLA has been shutout in its pursuit of banners in only four calendar years: 1986, 1994, 2012, and 2016. The last two empty years have been with Guerrero in charge, and it marks the only instance in that time frame in which UCLA has come up empty twice in a five year span.

If we treat each component of Guerrero's trifecta of failure as an independent event--which is substantially correct--then we can roughly estimate the probability of the trifecta occurring under the leadership of an at least semi-competent AD. However, to produce a nonzero probability, we have to credit Guerrero's predecessor with the results from the 2002-03 men's basketball season. Then, using the results from the previous 36 calendar years, we can estimate the probability of failure in each component.

  • UCLA Football: 12 losing seasons between 1957 and 2002. Probability of a losing season = 33.3%
  • UCLA Basketball: 1 losing season between 1957 and 2003. Probability of a losing season = 2.8%
  • NCAA Championships: 9 years without a trophy between 1957 and 2002. Probability of a trophyless season = 25%
  • Estimated probability of a semi-competent AD hitting the trifecta of failure: 0.2%
In other words, according to the quick and crude estimate above which relies on absolving Dan Guerrero of responsibility for retaining Steve Lavin for the 2002-2003 season, a semi-competent AD might expect to hit the trifecta of failure once every 500 years or so. Dan Guerrero, on the other hand, managed to nail it in just 14 years.

In fairness to Dan Guerrero, he probably wouldn't define 2016 as a failure; he'd more likely refer to the year as a challenging 12 months that proves how impressive and remarkable the performance of UCLA Athletics has been for the previous 13 years of his tenure. That's the outlook of someone who sees "managing expectations" as one of the most important functions of his job. Unfortunately, "managing expectations" isn't consistent with the pursuit of excellence, and it shows in Dan Guerrero's record of mediocrity as UCLA's AD.


This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.