Jim L. Mora rocking the blue and gold. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Yesterday was a busy day for the UCLA football program as new head football coach Jim L. Mora was officially introduced to the Bruin Nation as the head coach of our football program. If you have not seen the highlights of the presser, you can catch it here. You will have to bite your lips when you hear Chianti Dan waxing poetic about "searching far and wide" for our new coach. We will get back to him in other post.
Let's get back to Mora. He taped his first video Q&A with Ralph Irvin from the official site which you can view here. Honestly, there is not a lot to take away from his public pronouncements from yesterday. He served up the right points about UCLA being a "sleeping giant," with a beautiful campus and incredible university that should be competing for Pac-12 championships on a regular basis. We like hearing all of that. However, I liked it that he didn't make any brash pronouncements, knowing full well how much work has to be done to deliver results - immediately.
Mora did get a good amount of work done in his first day with some great results. More on that after the jump.
Mora passed his first test as the head coach of the program. Per Jon Gold Mora passed a mandatory recruiting test for NCAA coaches, enabling him to engage in recruiting right away starting last night. So that was good news. Also, UCLA was able to get the "dual staff waiver" from the NCAA, which will help Mora and his new staff (as they get assembled) to get started on the recruiting trail right away. Again, from Gold:
Every new coach added during the next few weeks will mean one less current coach who is allowed to recruit, and with Mora's addition to the staff, that already begins.
Speaking of staff, reports came out last night that Mora has already added two ace recruiters Adrian Klemm, OL coach from SMU and Steve Broussard, the WR coach from ASU to his staff. He will probably plug them into our recruiting efforts right away. You can read Gold's posts on these two here and here.Not bad at all.
Mora is also zeroing on another ASU assistant - Noel Mazzone. Doug Haller shared the Arizona angle on Mazzone and Broussard in the Arizona Republic. Getting both of them would be great gets. If you haven't see AHMB's thread on various assistant coaching prospects, you should check it out here.
One additional note on the staff. Pete Yoon from ESPNLA reported that Marques Tuiasosopo, former Washington Husky superstar QB who was serving as an intern in Rick Neuheisel's staff has been promoted to QB coach for the interim:
Tuiasosopo, who before the promotion served as an intern, apparently brings a rejuvenated approach to the position. There were limitations, per NCAA rules, on what he could and could not do as an intern. Now there are no restrictions, and Tuiasosopo has embraced the freedom.
"I'm able to be with the quarterbacks in the meeting room, and I can give my 100 percent coaching them," Tuiasosopo said. "I have no stipulations. It's been a great opportunity for me."
The quarterbacks praised the job Neuheisel did as their position coach and haven't noticed major changes between the two. Tuiasosopo, a former second-round draft selection of the Oakland Raiders, was a quarterback at Washington while Neuheisel was head coach of the Huskies.
"Coach Neuheisel, he was the head coach, so he had to be paying attention to other things," redshirt junior Kevin Prince said. "Coach Tui' is focused on us all day. The only thing he cares about is the quarterback position, so he's a lot more attentive to the little things we're doing."
Tuiasosopo, 32, said he knows newly hired coach Jim L. Mora "pretty well" from his time at Washington, and that he "would love to stay" as quarterbacks coach past Dec. 31, when the Bruins take on Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Given the Washington connection between Mora and Tui, could be interesting to see if Tui remains as a bridge from the Neuheisel staff to Mora's crew at UCLA.
Mora also met with the players for the first time in a closed door meeting yesterday. Per ESPNLA he received a "standing ovation." More interestingly, Mora told the players "not to tweet about school":
"He walked in and got an ovation from the whole team," junior quarterback Richard Brehaut said. "I think every one of us looks forward to getting to know him over these next couple of months and moving forward with him as a program."
Mora, according to one player, asked the team not to tweet about the school. A handful of UCLA players used Twitter last week to voice their displeasure about an issue with the distribution of their bowl checks.
"There's going to be some changes," Brehaut said. "He's going to hold guys accountable for every action -- whether it's on the field or in the classroom -- everything is going to be accounted for. Competitive greatness is something we're going to strive for every day.
All that is good to hear. However, I think Mora and UCLA should be thoughtful about implementing a team wide social media policy for the program. I am not sure outright ban is way to go. I think there are strategic ways to develop smart and sensible rules around Twitter and Facebook posting issues, without compromising underlying discipline issues in the program. We will see how it plays out. If this is a start to bringing some much needed discipline and organization into the program, so be it.
Speaking of organization and discipline, Mora talked about a "culture of accountability" while chatting with Gold:
"You have to create a culture of accountability. Not only accountability to your institution, to your school, but to your teammate and to yourself. There's really not a lot stronger than peer-to-peer accountability. I have a saying that I like, and that's, 'Count on me.' You have to earn the right, first of all, through your actions, to say to somebody, 'Hey, you count on me,' and have any merit. Once we get a culture where each player knows beyond a doubt that they can depend on the man next to him to be there for him as hard and as long as they can, then we'll be going in the right direction. That's not easy. That's not easy to create. But that's what we're going to create. We're going to create a culture of accountability. We're going to have very high expectations and we're going to push to reach them and we're going to be proud of them."
All that sounds great but we also heard a lot about the need for culture change from Rick Neuheisel too. So we will wait to see how this all works out. Ultimately both on and off field performances of this program will be indicative of whether Mora's approach is working.
As for the team Yoon posted some quick notes from Tuesday practice here. MLB Patrick Larimore reportedly had a thumb surgery, but should still be ready to go for the bowl game. The practice was reportedly fast paced and a little chippy featuring scuffle between Datone Jones and Brett Downey. Guess a little bit of intensity is always a good thing. Let's hope they can sustain it and get us a win to close out the season.