An Open Letter to Jim Mora

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Dear Coach Mora:

I am sorry that T.J. Simers saw fit to accuse you of putting winning ahead of everything else. I wish I could say I was surprised by Mr. Simers' comments, but I think his remarks were entirely predictable. If you read him regularly - I admit that the reasons for doing so would mystify many people - you will see that a fair number of his columns depend on ridicule. Unfortunately, the leadership of UCLA's athletic department has for too long provided Mr. Simers ample opportunities to practice his craft.

That leaves you, in my judgment, between a rock and a hard place. It's too early to know, of course, if you will be able to return UCLA football to the place of prominence it once had. But it's clear that you have to walk a fine line between keeping Dan Guerrero and Gene Block happy, trying to satisfy numerous reporters and doing the job for which you were hired; namely, making UCLA football once again part of a proud tradition. (An aside: I was a journalist who worked at major metro dailies for many years. It was a career filled with many joys, not the least of which was not having to work with Mr. Simers.)

And what is your greatest offense so far? You have dared to re-introduce something that has been missing from UCLA football for too long: competence. And that brings us back to Mr. Simers. If I'm correct in asserting that a number of his columns depend on ridicule, does he gain or lose ground if the UCLA football program becomes a hallmark of competence? Are his opportunities for ridicule greater or less?

Let me touch on a few other points that Mr. Simers made. There is this sentence, for example: "This week, Mora announced the school's sports information department is incompetent." Mr. Simers then quoted you as saying, "I'm not going to jeopardize what we're doing as a football team because of the incompetence of SOME people." Well, is referring to "the incompetence of SOME people" the same as saying "the school's sports information department is incompetent?" In other words, is the word "SOME" the same as the word "ALL?" (I'm referring to ALL the members of the sports information department.) But let's take this a step further. Let's assume you said something intemperate and did things you regret. Mr. Simers quoted sports information assistant Steve Rourke as saying you "reached out." And he quoted sports information director Nick Ammazzalorso as saying, "He apologized to me." Isn't this part of daily life? I haven't encountered many saints in my lifetime; perhaps Mr. Simers' experience is different.

As in all of Mr. Simers' columns, there is a litany of other claims also worth examining. Here is a partial list:

  • "In doing so, he gave the sports information assistant an earful of some very impressive obscenities, which of course the young players would expect from their demanding leader."

You are right to be sarcastic about this, Mr. Simers, since it's highly unlikely that these words were familiar to the players on the field. Moreover, even if the words were familiar to them, there is little chance they had heard them expressed on other occasions, such as scrimmages or games.

  • "...apparently everyone at UCLA is afraid the coach might yell at them.Obviously no one was afraid ofKarl Dorrelland Neuheisel, so UCLA lost. Things are definitely looking up."

Again you are right, Mr. Simers. This is a discerning look at how bureaucracies - in particular, university bureaucracies - really work.

  • "Everyone knew he (Mora) was referring to USC, but he still persisted in not telling the truth until he was forced to come clean."

This, too, has the ring of truth, coming from one of Mr. Simers' many insights. You may have wanted to put the best face on a barb you issued during a highly competitive recruiting season. And yet, is it possible that a misplaced attempt to be tactful (after admittedly saying the wrong thing) makes you something LESS than a liar (most people would agree the correct use of the word requires repeated occurrences) and therefore isn't worth much attention?

I should add that I hope no one was mollified by the fact that Mr. Simers also made several critical remarks about USC. Our concern is with how OUR university, its students, its instructors and its coaches are portrayed. The litmus test, as always, is whether stories in the media are accurate.

Finally, I want to conclude on this note. Although I'm devoted to this site for UCLA supporters, I disagree with those who suggest the L.A. Times' sports stories aren't interesting or well-written. In fact, the Times has many excellent writers. Unfortunately, Mr. Simers is not among them.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.