Steve Alford hired: How UCLA brought in New Mexico coach

USA TODAY Sports

Alford said he had no idea that UCLA would be interested in him when he signed a 10-year contract extension earlier in the week.

Steve Alford signed a 10-year contract extension to stay at the University of New Mexico on Wednesday, March 27. He held a press conference and talked about how committed he was to building UNM into one of the best college basketball programs in the country.

About 72 hours later, Alford made the decision to leave the Albuquerque deserts for the palm tress of Los Angeles after accepting UCLA's offer to become their next head coach.

"I thought I was going to be here a long time. I just signed a 10-year deal," Alford said at a Saturday morning press conference.

"This was something that came out of left field. It was an opportunity for my family and my career that I couldn't pass up."

When Alford held the press conference on Wednesday, he claimed to have no knowledge that the Bruins were going to pursue him for their coaching vacancy.

"Earlier in the week, UCLA wasn't even in the picture," Alford said.

According to the 48-year-old head coach, the talks with UCLA really picked up late in the week. He and his agent maintained consistent contact with the Bruins until Friday night, when the deal was finalized. Alford then texted New Mexico athletic director Paul Krebs late Friday evening to let him know the deal was done. The two spoke on the phone Saturday morning.

Krebs, while disappointed in the decision, understood why Alford would leave. He said Alford was honest and forthright throughout the entire process.

"This has been a very hard 48 hours. The toughest decision that I've had to make ... maybe ever. And that's because of how much I love this place," Alford said. "When an opportunity presents itself like UCLA, it's really hard to say no to that in the end."

Alford will be introduced as the next head coach at UCLA during a Tuesday press conference.

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