In case you didn’t know, UCLA has a new head football coach in Jim Mora.
That’s obvious, but you guys tend to forget things. Chill.
Mora’s doing everything different than his past two predecessors, both of whom were entirely for making UCLA the most mediocre program in the Pac-12. Mora’s running a tight ship, making sure his players’ — and his own — expectations are higher than what we, as fans, perceive them to be.
This is evident in his most recent interview with Jill Painter at the Press-Telegram. Here’s what he had to say about his long-term vision at UCLA:
The 50-year-old, who’s never been a head coach of a collegiate program, has bold plans.
“I would like us to be competing – I don’t know what the structure will be – to play in the national championship every year,” Mora said. “I want us to be a legit contender in five years.”
We know, we know: Whine about the five-year time slot all you want. You can’t expect him to be a college football historian with no experience under his belt and understand that a rebuild at UCLA doesn’t have to take that long.
The point is, Mora has high expectations. We heard this coach-speak before, and “wanting to play in the national championship every year” is every coach’s goal.
He also was asked the not-that-obligatory-but-media-members-always-ask question about the dorks across town at South Cal:
Asked if it helped having crosstown rival USC in his backyard already doing that, Mora asked:
“When was the last time they won the national championship?”
Eight years ago, according to the Associated Press. (The BCS stripped the Trojans of that championship after the Reggie Bush scandal.) USC won in 2003 and 2004 under Pete Carroll and has 11 national championships.
“If you think lately in this business is eight years …” Mora said during a sitdown interview at camp in San Bernardino.
To a degree, Mora has it right. The last time South Cal was a national champion was the last time a president declared war on Iraq in 2003. Nine years is the equivalent of the decades it’s been since UCLA won a national title in college football, especially when the likes of Alabama and LSU are assembling the closest thing to a dynasty that you can get in college football.
Mora wasn’t done, though, and answered yet another question about South Cal:
USC is the preseason favorite to win in the Associated Press poll, and many others predict the Trojans will be playing in the BCS national championship game in Miami in January.
“There’s a big difference between being considered and being anointed and presented,” Mora said.
There is no such thing as entitlement in the world of college football. Preseason hype means nothing, crazy South Cal fans’ inexplicable love for the Trogans be damned.
Of course, expect your whiny South Cal fans to say something along the lines of, “Why doesn’t Mora just focus on UCLA?” as if he were asked the questions himself.
Because you can’t expect a coach who’s getting hammered constantly by cross-town fans and alum to defer all the time to the bland, “Well, they’re a great team, but our focus is here”-type answers. It doesn’t take a narcissist to get fed up with hearing about — and hell, being asked repeatedly if the team your coaching will ever measure up to — your archenemies.
He’s carving out a personality for himself, though, and that’s what you need in the world of college football, while, in the NFL, it’s something you have to eliminate. (See: Mike Leach, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick.)
We’re all super excited for the Mora era to begin against Rice. We may be terrified, but we’re eager.
Four days ’til kick-off.