Head Coach Jim Mora has done a lot of great things for the UCLA Football program, but has he done enough?
Just last week UCLA’s Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced football Head Coach Jim Mora had been given a two-year extension on his contract. This means that, all things being equal, Mora will be leading the UCLA Football team through the 2021 season.
The move by UCLA does not really come as a surprise. Prior to Mora, UCLA was mostly known as a basketball school as the football program was constantly overshadowed by the dominance of its crosstown rival, especially in the decade prior to Mora’s arrival.
It also did not help that the team just did not know how to win. In the ten years before the Mora era, the Bruins registered only three seasons with a winning record: 8-5 (2002), 10-2 (2005), and 7-6 (2006). In the other years, the Bruins could not come up with more than 4 or 6 wins per year.
These numbers make the Mora’s Bruin Revolution all the more impressive. In his tenure with the Bruins, Coach Mora has led UCLA to four winning seasons: 9-5 (2012), 10-3 (2013), 10-3 (2014), and 8-5 (2015). In just four years, the Bruins went from a small program out of Arroyo Seco to a National Championship competitor.
Aside from the team wins, since Coach Mora took over, the Bruins’ talent has also been recognized individually with several Pac-12 conference and national awards.
Even more telling, 20 Bruins have had their name called in the NFL Draft since 2013, with a record 8 selected this year. To put that into perspective, in the ten drafts before the Mora era, only 23 Bruins were selected to the NFL. This includes two years, 2009 and 2012, when no Bruins were picked. In only four years, Mora has sent almost as many Bruins to the NFL as other coaches did in the previous ten years combined!
But despite all of these accolades, there has been just one big elephant-in-the-room type of problem, blemishing what would otherwise be a perfect campaign for Mora. Since the Mora Revolution started, Bruin fans everywhere have been left waiting for a Pac-12 Championship.
In the last four years, the Bruins only managed to show up for the Pac-12 Championship game once. That was back in 2012. Ever since, UCLA has struggled to even beat the Pac-12 South. Mora has hinted time and time again that UCLA can win the next national champion, but it would be a mighty difficult feat to become the next national champion when you cannot even win your own conference.
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Coach Mora has had his time. This team is no longer full of freshmen. The Bruins have arguably one of the best quarterbacks in the nation in Josh Rosen. And sure, the team lost several key players from last year, but this is part of college football; we will lose players over and over again.
What distinguishes a team from the rest of the Pac is one that can win even after great players leave. UCLA should not be in rebuilding mode anymore. This should be the team, and this should be the time.
Coach Mora cannot afford to not win the Pac-12 Championship this year. Recruits and the fan base can only buy the “there’s always next year” line so many times.
Only a conference championship will truly legitimize the revolution or “The Blue Print,” as the new kids are calling it. This is especially true after the Bruins slid to an 8-5 record last year.
So is this finally the year Coach Mora has long promised us? We will start to see in just 82 days.