UCLA Football: A Closer Look at Head Coach Jim Mora

UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora, Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

In Jim Mora’s first season as UCLA’s head coach, he led the Bruins to an astounding 9-3 regular season record earning, national recognition and finishing third in Coach of the Year voting. So how will Mora fair in his second season with the Bruins? A closer look gives reason for worry—but not too much.

James Lawrence Mora was hired by UCLA on December 10, 2011 with a clear set of expectations: return UCLA to greatness and rebuild the program, mold young men into future stars and beat ‘SC. No excuses.

Well, in his short tenure at UCLA, much of this was accomplished as the Bruins knocked off opponent after opponent and boys became men (*cough* Brett Hundley). And a team that loves its coach, who revamped a struggling program in so little time, can only get better, right? That would be the logical thought, but let’s delve into the statistical resumé of Jim Mora.

Hired as the Atlanta Falcons head coach in 2004, Mora took a team that finished 5-11 the prior year to a first round playoff bye and an NFC Championship game, where they would lose to the Eagles to finish 11-5 in the turnaround season.

Falcons fans were still happy though, expecting another playoff run the following year, but their hopes crumbled as Atlanta stumbled yet again, finishing 8-8 and leaving Mora on the hot seat. Then came 2006, where Mora again won fewer games than prior seasons, as the Falcons finished 7-9. Mora was dismissed and his run was considered a failure. The graph below should make it clear that Mora trended downward with Atlanta.

Then, on January 21, 2007, Mora was hired by the Seattle Seahawks, where he worked as an assistant coach and DB coach. Just prior to the 2008 season, Mora was promoted to head coach, but finished 5-11. Here’s another graph with more insight into Mora’s production trends. (Note: the 2003-2004 and 2010-2011 data points were not Mora coached teams).

So fill in the blank: UCLA finishes ___ and ___ in the 2013-14 season. Well Mora’s trend would say next season will result in a pretty low win percentage, but of course we can’t predict the future. Mora has shown a propensity to spike up a team’s wins, drop them back down, and then increase them again. Next year may or may not drop the Bruins back down to reality, continuing the pattern.

Regardless, the players seem to love Coach Mora and we can only hope that they continue to work hard and achieve up to their potential.

Topics: Football, Jim Mora, UCLA Bruins, UCLA Football

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kevin.mason.144 Kevin Mason

    Yes he didn’t have a great coaching career in the NFL doesn’t mean he’s going to repeat the same cycle. He has a different staff and a good one. Just like Pete Carroll at SUC, he came from the NFL with not so good coaching career or assistant coaching career and came to college football and had success.

    • http://twitter.com/JJPoir Jeff Poirier

      I agree. His staff is stacked, and quite frankly his team is built for success. Talent throughout the depth chart at a number of important positions, so I don’t think there will be a recession in Year 2.

      But Carroll cheated to win at usc…and we don’t want any of that in Westwood. It may take a couple years, but UCLA is building a clean program right now and the future is bright with Mora at the helm.

      • Jonathan Taylor

        He didn’t cheat. I was re uritedby both and went to there camps… it was outside entities. Could Pete have known or found out about it yes, but did he care no… I bet if the Sec didn’t have their protective cloud you’d fine WAY more violations that SC haven’t done.

  • Danny

    IMHO his team loves him for two reasons:

    1) he is a genuinely good guy, who shoots straight, helps them improve, has a legitimate knowledge on how to get to the next level and cares for his kids.

    2) He wins games.

    He’s got #1 nailed. The only challenge is #2. Here’s hoping the Bruins are successful

    • Guest

      Let me clarify. While this is not something journalists usually share, it tends to be well known that a controversial article is key in getting interested readers, regardless of if they totally disagree or not. I for one don’t feel this way about Mora. Knowing him personally, hes a genuine guy and a great one too. Nonetheless this was just an analysis of his past, and I thought it would spike some controversy. I’m unbelievably optimistic for our future under “Jimmy”, just read some of my other articles about our future. This article was fun to write though, and it brings up good points that I have heard from well educated (yes, also in sports) people. Thats all, hope you don’t disregard my writing because of this article.

  • Chuck Dart Sr.

    Excuse me what do graphs and football have in common? Nothing!!! The NFL and college football are so totally different. One are pros with a owner who controls all. They DRAFT players who are paid very large sums of money to play with a coach who makes so much less. College have to answer to a AD and alumni. They chase high school kids convincing them that their school is the place to not only play but get a education also. Many more colleges to go to virses getting drafted. Carroll did not have that great of a pro career nor did Jim. Jim has come in and had gand buster recuiting classes and one hell of a great staff. I’ll put my money any day on Jim. He even took players from the condoms last year to pour salt into their wounds. Go Bruins!!!

    • Guest

      Let me clarify. While this is not something journalists usually share, it tends to be well known that a controversial article is key in getting interested readers, regardless of if they totally disagree or not. I for one don’t feel this way about Mora. Knowing him personally, hes a genuine guy and a great one too. Nonetheless this was just an analysis of his past, and I thought it would spike some controversy. I’m unbelievably optimistic for our future under “Jimmy”, just read some of my other articles. This article was fun to write though, and it brings up good points that I have heard from well educated (yes, also in sports) people. Thats all, hope you don’t disregard my writing because of this article.

  • geedee103

    This is a stupid article you should have waited until his 3rd or 4th year at UCLA then base all of this off his college record didn’t the chargers want him this year he can get a head coaching job right now in the NFL if he want if now got write a better article so you can keep your job.

    • Guest

      Let me clarify. While this is not something journalists usually share, it tends to be well known that a controversial article is key in getting interested readers, regardless of if they totally disagree or not. I for one don’t feel this way about Mora. Knowing him personally, hes a genuine guy and a great one too. Nonetheless this was just an analysis of his past, and I thought it would spike some controversy. I’m unbelievably optimistic for our future under “Jimmy”, just read some of my other articles. This article was fun to write though, and it brings up good points that I have heard from well educated (yes, also in sports) people. Thats all, hope you don’t disregard my writing because of this article, as it was meant to be interesting.

  • johnjohn

    Sure, statistically and factually speaking, your article is accurate. However, past preformance is no indication of future preformance, particularily when you are comparing pro football and college football. Mora connects with these kids. He inspires them and is a great leader. That doesnt just go away in a year with College kids. They bought into him and his system. With pro players, motivating them is one thing, but pro players care about $$ and ego and statistics. Pro players rarely buy into a coach or a program (excluding Bellichek), but at the college level, players buy in because they care about the team and getting to the next level (NFL), there is no free agency for them. MORA/UCLA WILL WIN 9 GAMES IN 2013.