Culture change has been a big topic here on BN since the arrival of Jim Mora. He mentioned how the "culture of UCLA football needs to change" when over the wall nonsense happened during bowl preparation week. He pledged to stop that BS by declaring it "completely unacceptable" and not part of UCLA. Then on his first official day as the head coach he sent another strong signal by kicking out couple of players for "violating team rules" from the program and letting go of another due to academic issues.
It appears Mora has installed some new team rules in attempt to establish much needed sense of accountability with the program. In recent days from tracking tweeter conversations among current and former players, we have pieced together information that Mora has installed a "strike system" at UCLA.
From what we understand here is how the strike system works for team. If the players miss class, tutoring or any other program set out by Mora and his staff that is considered a "strike." If they are late to class, meetings or practice that is considered a "strike" as well. If strikes pile up for a player, he (and his team-mates are disciplined) in the following progression:
- 1 strike equals "5 am punishment" (which we are assuming 5 am workouts) for the violator.
- 2 strike equal "5 am punishment" TWICE for the violator.
- 3 strikes equal "5 am punishment" for the violator's position group. So if the violator is part of running back crew, all the running backs will be mandated to partake in 5 am workouts.
- 4 strikes equal "5 am punishment" for the whole side of the ball. So if the violation is part of the running back crew, the entire offensive unit will be forced to partake in the 5 am workouts.
Needless to say this kind of disciplinary system will raise the stakes for everyone. This way every member of the team will have incentives to make sure not only he is abiding by team rules, but also keeping an eye on his peers from his respective position group and side of the ball to ensure, they are not repeatedly getting in trouble. We will have to see how the strike system plays out under the new regime.
Bringing about "culture change" was also a big topic during the early months of Rick Neuheisel as well. We heard that phrase a lot. We have heard all the talk about "vastly different" offseason stemming from the so called culture change. This was also the theme during early years of Karl Dorrell when we heard the term how he and his staff were cleaning up the "underbelly" from Bob Toledo's program.
So many of us who have been around for a while following our program obsessively are at mindset of haivng been there and done that. Despite our skepticism though we do appreciate what we are seeing from Mora. We hope this kind of measure will bring much needed sense of discipline in this underachieving program.
From what we have heard from few folks Mora has always been an intense coach who believed in almost militaristic discipline. While his approach may have rubbed off some millionaire primadonnas in the NFL the wrong way, it could potentially work really well at the college level. We are hoping that will be the case at UCLA.
What we really want to see from Mora's steps to instill discipline among our players is that they will help him build a program of group of talented players, who are fundamentally sound, well coached, and play up to their potential on game days. In other words we'd like to see the rhetoric and welcome measures to instill discipline off the field result in a successful season on it.