Steve Lavin will either have to come up with a new hairdo or buy
cheaper gel.

Affording top-of-the-line hair products might be difficult if he
is fired as expected at the end of the season.

At this point, Lavin’s future isn’t just
speculation; the coach is clearly resigned to a lame duck role.

When former Bruin Billy Knight called Lavin this week to offer
his support, Lavin could only laugh.

“Hang in there,” Knight said on Lavin’s
voicemail. “I know you’ll be back next year.”

“I thought he must not be getting the news from
here,” Lavin said. “I guess he’s not reading USA
Today.”

With a new athletic director in place and the Bruins’
inability to advance beyond the Sweet 16 in the past five seasons,
Lavin was already on the hot seat coming into the season. It likely
would have taken at least another Sweet 16 appearance, and possibly
more, to save his job.

But with the team’s current 5-16 record, and ninth-place
standing in the Pac-10, even an NCAA tournament berth is just about
impossible.

Even if the Bruins do manage to make the Pac-10 tournament and
win it to earn an automatic tournament berth, the team’s poor
regular season performance certainly would not be forgotten by
Athletic Director Dan Guerrero.

So Lavin is already talking about who might replace him in one
of the most high-profile jobs in college basketball.

“(Pittsburgh coach) Ben Howland, (Gonzaga’s) Mark
Few, (UC Santa Barbara’s) Bob Williams, (Kansas’) Roy
Williams, and (UC Irvine’s) Pat Douglass,” Lavin said.
“These are my list of candidates.”

When asked what it will take for any of them to succeed at UCLA,
Lavin gave a trite response.

“If you produce, you get the coach,” he said.
“If not, you’re unemployed.”

Even though his future seems decided, Lavin is refusing to throw
in the towel on this season. Despite 10 straight Pac-10 losses, he
is still using the possibility of postseason play as motivation for
his players.

“Talks like “˜win one for the gipper’
don’t seem appropriate,” Lavin said.

And his players haven’t noticed his focus waning as his
farewell tour comes to an end. They say he is still only thinking
about UCLA basketball, and not where he might be next year.

“I don’t think he’s thinking about what his
next job is,” guard Jon Crispin said.