Bald Eagle fanshotted a pretty glowing profile piece on Jim Mora by CBS Sportsline's Dennis Dodd. Dodd takes a look at "defensive-minded" Mora (mistakenly addressing him as "Jr.") with the topline of how he is changing "business as usual" at UCLA. The piece is third of a three part series of "the New Defenders, profiling defensive coaches fighting back in this age of record-setting offense."
Mora mostly strikes the right notes:
"The perception of UCLA football to those of who were not involved with UCLA football," the Bruins' new head coach says, "was that UCLA football had become soft."
Mora begs you not to write this is his opinion, just an aggregate byproduct from one of the great mysteries of the college football universe: How has UCLA not only ceded this town to USC for the last decade, but become almost irrelevant nationally during that period?And to be clear, the rookie college head coach is just passing along the gathered sense that UCLA had become pliable.
"That was the perception," Mora reiterated, "Our intent is to make sure that nobody can say that about us again. Whether it's truth, doesn't matter. Our goal is eliminate that perception, wipe it off the map, never let it cross anyone's lips again."
If this is an early indication of the comeback the Bruins have been waiting for since 1998, pass the shoulder pads. At a recent 7 a.m. interview for which Mora arrives early, the son of the veteran NFL coach of the same name laid out his plan. The overarching message is clear: The Bruins will become tough.
Well, all of this sounds pretty warm and fuzzy as a UCLA alum suffering through 14 years of underachieving and mostly unwatchable football from the Bruin blue and gold, except for few flashes of brilliance from MJD . Those are the grafs from a classic profile piece of a new coaching regime which is still going through a honeymoon period.
However, Mora knows that none of this will matter much of Bruins cannot break out of the cycle of underachieving, up and down seasons, this coming year and once again lose the city battle to Southern Cal.
Oh and speaking of Southern Cal there was this from the Dodd piece:
Mora's hire has eerie similarities to That School Across Town. Eleven years ago, USC AD Mike Garrett similarly hired an out-of-work former defensive-minded NFL head coach with no ties to the program.
"It's not offensive," to compare his situation to Pete Carroll, Mora says, "There is no question that can be offensive to me. I've done this too long."
Well, it may not be offensive to compare the situation of UCLA football to where the Trojans were when Petey took over. However, as much as we despise Cheatey Petey, the facts are that he had much more experience as a college coach than Mora. Once again, here are Carroll's college experience in bullets (via his bio on Seahawks' website):
- Three years as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Pacific (1974-76), working with the wide receivers and secondary.
- One season as a graduate assistant working with the secondary at Arkansas (1977) under Lou Holtz as the Razorbacks won the 1978 Orange Bowl
- One season as secondary coach at Iowa State (1978)
- One season as secondary coach at Ohio State (1979).
- Three seasons (1980-82) as the defensive coordinator and secondary coach at North Carolina State
- One season at Pacific in 1983 as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, before starting his NFL career
In total Carroll had 10 years of experience of coaching college at various positions ranging from graduate assistant to assistant head coach, spanning both sides of the field. That is a dramatic difference from Mora's one year of experience as a graduate assistant at Washington. So, the comparison between Carroll and Mora does not really apply if you want to go by facts.
Regardless, we want Mora to succeed ... badly. We are tired of going through new coaching regimes and having to read same warm and fuzzy beat-sweetening pieces from traditional media reporters, without the coaches actually proving themselves on Saturdays (we read enough of them before Rick Neuheisel coached a game in Westwood).
We will end with the following grafs from Dodd's piece:
[I]f UCLA is going to find its inner macho, defense will lead the way. Mora is such a film nut that he spent part of Easter with his dad Jim Sr. breaking down Bruins' practice. The tape showed a 3-4 front taken directly from his father. Zone concepts, Mora Jr. said, come from defensive masterminds Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers.
The staff, according to Mora, has 93 years of NFL experience and five Super Bowl rings. Mora himself says he has coached 16 Hall of Famers, 38 Pro Bowl selections with a total of 98 appearances.
"We've been around greatness," he said, "and observed it first-hand."
Coaches like LeBeau and Capers no doubt are defensive greats in the NFL. However, none of that "greatness" will matter this Fall, if Bruins don't get it done this fall ... which is taking advantage of the easiest schedule in years with a huge first season and a victory over Southern Cal.
Hey, if Mora really wants to live up to comparison of Pete Caroll, he'd make sure UCLA destroys it's crosstown rival in his first year in Westwood. After all that is exactly what Carroll did unleashed the dark era (boosted by cheating) of Trojan dominance over our Bruins. That is something what Jim Harbaugh also did in his first year in Stanford - beating the Trojans on the road in LA.
So all these articles are cool. They feel great to read. But "business as usual" is not going to change at UCLA until Mora breaks out with a huge season and beats the Trojans at the Rose Bowl. That is what "greatness" will mean in Bruin blue and gold.