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.