When the dominoes start to fall, everything gets loose.
After a crazy day of wild speculation with little to no substance, Jim Mora put an end to the
rumors pipe dreams at the University of Washington and made it official that he is staying at U.C.L.A.
That's pretty official. Feldman doesn't screw around.
UPDATE. Now confirmed on BruinReportOnline.com.
UPDATE II: Here is the official confirmation, which notes that the extension agreement is "subject to approval" by the UC Regents.
Mora was far and away the first choice of the Huskies, who just saw their perennial seven game winning coach abandon them for the sanctioned mess that is Southern Cal. Nevertheless, they hoped that another coach from the Southern California area would then turn around and come back to them. The links to Mora were obvious, he is a UW alum, he still has ties to the Seattle area, and his current value is red hot.
But the reality is that Mora is two years into a rejuvenated program with a myriad of advantages over UW, one that is on the rise and is returning an incredible core of youth and experience next season. UW would have been a backward move for Mora at this point, and more money and a chance to coach his alma mater weren't enough to overcome that. Besides, "home" is relative. Manhattan Beach is better than Seattle every day of the year, even if Lane Kiffin is one of your neighbors.
Mora did use his good business sense to parley his most-wanted status into an extension for himself and some nice raises for his deserving coaching staff. While wishful thinking Washington fans suggested Mora was in Seattle meeting with their AD, Mora was in fact in Northern California doing in-home visits last night (and again today) with some of the top prospects in the land, selling them on the advantages of UCLA. And one of those advantages is our coaching stability.
Dan Guerrero did the only thing he could do in extending the benefits to Mora and staff. The failure to retain the most successful football coach that the Bruins have had in 14 years and 3 regimes, who is hot off his second of back-to-back victories over Southern Cal, would have been career suicide for the A.D. The donors who stepped up to retain Mora would have instead put their weight up against Guerrero had he failed to do the obvious. In this case, Dan's instinct to save his skin first worked out well for everyone else.
While we at BN are completely and irretrievably emotionally tied to our school, we are not inherently emotionally tied to our coaches. College football coaching is a business, and that doesn't always sync perfectly with our passion for U.C.L.A. Having said that, I think Mora has done a very good job so far - and certainly much better than nearly anyone expected. But there is still work to be done to get the Bruins to a level that matches the talent on the roster and the tradition of excellence in Westwood. Keeping Mora was a critical piece of that process today, and hopefully we will continue to see the same commitment to improvement through the recruiting season and into spring and summer camps as we head into what looks to be a most promising season for Bruin football next fall.
Now, let's get that quarterback to return next year, too.