LOS ANGELES — Mick Cronin knows about all the skepticism.
News reports that he wasn’t UCLA’s first choice as a new head coach. Message boards that balk at his lack of NCAA tournament success at Cincinnati. Pundits who believe his grit-over-flair style won’t win over a hard-to-satisfy fanbase.
“You know what? It doesn’t matter. I don’t give a (expletive) about that (expletive),” Cronin tells USA TODAY Sports.
The 47-year-old isn’t the censoring type, and he has no plans to sugarcoat anything — to the media, unrelenting boosters or his players — in this new high-pressure job, which he acknowledges has national title-or-bust expectations.
“The noise is louder here,” Cronin says, “just like it’s louder at Kentucky, louder at North Carolina and louder at Duke. It’s a (blue-blood). I deflect criticism and focus on the job. I stay oblivious to it on purpose, and it’s liberating. If you want your players to block it out, you have to live it yourself.”
Cronin is two months into a dream job on a coaching trajectory…