He took the last two years off and he needed to, given how things ended for him at UCLA. Make no mistake, though, the man can coach. He got the job done at Northern Arizona…then built Pitt into an Eastern power (Jamie Dixon has really just continued along the template Howland initiated there) and had UCLA in 3 straight Final Fours before things went off the rails, due in part to some poor recruiting decisions in terms of guys they took on board (Reeves Nelson first among many).
The SEC is so f-ing bad that I would be surprised if Howland isn’t able to get the Bulldogs into good position in a short period of time, say two years. He’ll likely do what he’s always done, find mentally tough, hard nosed kids who will play defense his way and grind the s*** out of most of their opponents in that half baked league.