Has UCLA moved another step away from the John Wooden era by hiring its fourth head basketball coach since Wooden retired six years ago? Perhaps not, since the latest replacement is Larry Farmer, a pupil on some of Wooden's greatest Bruin teams and a popular assistant tuned in to the UCLA tradition.
Farmers takes over for Larry Brown, who is returning to the pro ranks as coach of the New Jersey Nets after two years at UCLA. Farmer was an assistant to Brown, and earlier to Gener Bartow and Gary Cunningham. "I had to get rid of three head coaches to get this job," joked Farmer, exhibiting a sense of humor expected to serve him well. Having played on three national championship teams, Farmers knows how success breeds pressure. Asked when he expected to fell the heat from the college community, he replied, "What time is it now?"
In moving up to the top job, Farmer becomes one of the few blacks coaching a major college basketball power.
Brown's departure had been rumored for weeks. Sobering his brief tenure were UCLA's fourth-place finish in last season's Pacific 10 race, its sound defeat to Brigham Young in the current Ncaa tournament, some differences with the university, and a death threat. The high point, of course, came when the Bruins advanced to last year's NCAA championship game against Louisville.
Money was on obvious factor in Brown's decision to resign. California real estate prices being what they are, his $40,000 salary just didn't go that far. The Nets reportedly will pay him $200,000 a year.