After UCLA lost in disappointing fashion, being entirely outworked and outcoached against Stanford, Jim Mora took to his usual post-game press conference.
Except this one was far from ho-hum, and usually, when press conferences are a big story, it’s the coach that explodes and has SportsCenter-worthy highlights that are often associated with the word “meltdown.”
Not in this case; instead, the (deservedly) oft-maligned T.J. Simers, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, confronted Jim Mora rather explicitly.
Here’s the video, via Edward Lewis at Rivals:
Here’s the exchange, in text:
Simers: So I figure in the first quarter, you decide to pack it in and play it like a preseason game, when you realize you can beat ‘em.
Mora: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the first part of your question.
Simers: So first quarter, 7-7. Then you go in your NFL mode, play a preseason game, figuring you play ‘em next week.
Simers: No? Why not, though?
Mora: Because we’re competitors, TJ. And those guys in there, don’t spend all the time that they do, preparing for a game, during the offseason, during the week, the sacrifices they make, to go out and not try and win every game.
Simers: Would you rather play Stanford than Oregon?
Mora: No, we wanted to win this game today. We didn’t and we came up short. But to insinuate that our players didn’t give their best effort–
Simers: [interrupting] No no, I’m insinuating you can arrange how the game is played.
Mora: I’ve never stepped on the field to compete and not give it my best.
Simers: You did that all the time in the NFL in preseason games.
Mora: Those games didn’t count.
Simers; Yeah well you know how to play a game and not reveal things. [Mora looks around at the room.] Don’t look around for help, I’m over here.
Mora: Well, you’re making a statement, I don’t know if there’s a question in there.
Simers: What’s wrong with the statement? You can comment on the statement.
Mora: I’ll comment on a question.
At this point, Mora answers another reporter’s question.
Of course, this isn’t the end of it. Mora and Simers go at it once more with Simers initiating.
Simers: There’s nothing better to develop a winning culture than going to a Rose Bowl game and the easier path to a Rose Bowl is through Stanford.
Mora: Is that a question or a statement? If you’re asking a question I’d be happy to answer it.
Simers: To put it in first-grade terms, do you agree or disagree?
Mora: With what?
Simers: What I just said.
Mora: I hadn’t thought about it, my only thought was Stanford, playing and beating Stanford, that’s all we wanted to do.
Simers: I’m just trying to figure out if you have a chance to beat Stanford, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you held something back.
Mora: Once again, is there a question? Is this a press conference where we ask questions? [To Simers] If you want to come up here, here, come up, take the mic, make all the statements you want, I’d love to have you up here.
Simers: No you wouldn’t, but nice try.
Mora: Sure I would. You don’t scare me.
At that point, Mora glares at Simers for a good five seconds and looks away in disgust.
T.J. Simers is pretty disliked and his role is that of a contrarian in his columns, but should reporters be allowed to confront head coaches the way Simers does? Instead of challenging Mora with difficult questions, should Simers be allowed to get into verbal spats?
No, but that’s a story for a different day. We’ll revisit this topic when UCLA bans Simers and the national media lambasts UCLA for doing so.