According to the Los Angeles Times, a source from UCLA’s Morgan Center, who isn’t authorized to speak on the subject, has stated that UCLA has reached an agreement with former NFL coach Jim L.Mora to become the school’s 19th football coach.
A formal announcement is expected, and Mora is scheduled to be introduced as the Bruins’ new head man at a news conference next week.
Unlike the previous head football coaches that have graced the Bruin sidelines since the late 1940s, Mora has no direct ties to UCLA as a player or an assistant; his father was on Dick Vermeil’s staff in 1974 and he used to attend the Bruins’ games as a youngster, but that’s all.
Mora, who had expressed interest the Bruin job and met with officials twice, comes to Westwood after spending two years as an analyst on the NFL Network. This is his first head coaching position at the collegiate level, having only been a graduate assistant with the Washington Huskies, his alma mater, in 1984, but he does have quite a bit of NFL experience, spending a total of four years combined at the helm of the Atlanta Falcons and the Seattle Seahawks.
He went 26-22 as the Falcons coach from 2004-2006, including reaching the NFC championship game and winning the NFL Coach of the Year award in ’04. His only season as the head man in Seattle was in 2009, when he went 5-11 and made way for Pete Carroll soon after.
The 50-year old Mora also spent time as an assistant with San Diego, New Orleans and San Francisco as well as Seattle, where he was in 2007 and turned down the Washington Redskins’ coaching job.
The son of the former New Orleans Saints’ coach takes over a Bruin program that hasn’t done too well in the 21st century; its 13 straight years without a Pac-10/12 championship or a Rose Bowl appearance is the longest in school history, as is not being ranked in the polls for 75 consecutive weeks.
The only time UCLA has won more than eight games in that span was in 2005, when they went 10-2 and beat Northwestern in the Sun Bowl.
And don’t get me started on how the Bruins have fared against crosstown rival USC this past decade, losing to the Trojans 12 out of the past 13 years, including a 50-0 humiliation this year – do you think Rick Neuheisel would have been relieved of his duties if UCLA had won, or was even competitive or played the Trojans close?
I reckon that there will be at least some fans who won’t like this hire, pointing to his mediocre record in the pros and lack of coaching experience in college, but one must keep in mind that Pete Carroll didn’t work out so great as an NFL head coach either, and had an epic and historical run at USC, leading them to a seven-year dominance.
OK, the Trojans ended up in scandal and sanctions, but that’s besides the point; if Carroll can achieve what he did on the field at ‘SC, I see no reason why Mora can’t do the same at UCLA – and without any of his players breaking any NCAA rules, either.
Provided that he is given the proper support from Dan Guerrero, his athletic department, and the administration, of course.
Personally, I’m glad that UCLA now has a coach in place, as it will certainly help with recruiting and keeping the high school commits that the Bruins currently have.
And I believe that Mora should be given a chance.