The UCLA Bruins have a rich tradition of basketball excellence, most of which was established by legendary coach John Wooden. While the last few seasons in Westwood have been tough, this is a program just a few years removed from back-to-back Final Four appearances.
The college basketball staff at ESPN recently ranked the best coaching gigs in America. With the new renovations to Pauley Pavilion, a strong local area to recruit and a large, wealthy fan base to help support the program, where did UCLA rank on their list?
Here are the complete rankings from ESPN. As for the Bruins, they came in at No. 4 after North Carolina, Kentucky and Kansas. Here is part of what Eamonn Brennan had to say about UCLA:
For years, with no dedicated practice facility and a dour, aging Pauley Pavilion as its only structural selling point, UCLA lost the pace in the national facilities arms race. Now the Bruins -- with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in tow -- are preparing to open a newly renovated Pauley Pavilion, a $136 million project that includes: new locker rooms, lounges, concession stands, restrooms and seats; a new scoreboard and video room; 30-inch LED ribbon board panels around the building's interior; and a built-in UCLA hoops museum. Like Indiana, UCLA no longer has to sell its tradition, or even its cultural import, while fighting against the Xbox-in-the-whirlpool-stocked locker rooms of elite rivals across the country. The Bruins have finally modernized.
Only one other Pac-12 team made the list -- Arizona -- and it really does seem like this is a program nearing a return to its glory days. College basketball is simply better as a whole when the Bruins are competitive, and that seems to be a likely scenario in 2012 given all the talent arriving in Westwood in the very near future.
And if it isn't the case, well, the nation's 4th best job might just be opening up next spring.
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