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Is UCLA Football Better Off Now Than It Was Under Karl Dorrell?

It’s true that Jim Mora has a worse conference record than Karl Dorrell. But, with three very good seasons under his belt, Mora has to be better than Dorrell, right? Not so fast my friend!

University of California Golden Bears v UCLA Bruins Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

The thing I love about sports is how passionate people can get, especially when they feel strongly about something.

Take, for instance, BN Member TommyNotTrojan. He is passionately arguing in the comments of my most recent Sunday Morning Quarterback article that UCLA could have won 8 to 10 games this season if Josh Rosen didn’t get hurt.

And, absolutely no amount of common sense is convincing him otherwise.

Well, today, I’m dusting off the Bruins Nation Mailbag after a few months.

Today’s victim commenter is Dan Pollard. Dan sent me the following email yesterday:


Are you a glass half full guy? Injuries, graduation, and bolting for the NFL early, and starting over with a new OC has an impact that teams will struggle with. It's happening in every conference so chill out.

One bad season does not make a trend.

Articles like yours is why many people has issues with your website. You can be critical but fair. Try that in your next negative article.

Oh, Dan...Dan...Dan. One bad season does not make a trend? OK. I’ll give you that.

Let’s look at some trends in the Jim Mora Era of UCLA Football then, shall we?

Mora is 3-10 in his last 13 games against Power Five schools, dating back to the Washington State game last season. That’s more than a year. Does that make a trend?

Something tells me that Dan would say it still doesn’t make a trend.

OK, then, let’s dig even deeper into Jim Mora’s record at UCLA. Let’s look at his entire five seasons so far. Hopefully, Dan will consider that a trend at least.

In that timeframe, Jim Mora has about the same number of wins against Pac-12 teams with overall losing records as he does against Pac-12 teams with winning records, his winning percentage against teams with winning records is much, much lower.

Mora is 12-2 against Pac-12 teams with overall losing records (that’s for both conference games and out-of-conference games). Hey, that looks great! It gives Jim an .857 winning percentage against teams that suck. I’d say that an elite coach probably should have won those two games he lost, but let’s not argue that point and just accept the fact that .857 is a damn good winning percentage. But, keep in mind that it’s against teams that finished the season under .500.

Now, let’s look at how Jim has done against Pac-12 teams with overall winning records. Against those teams, Mora is 13-18 for a .419 winning percentage. .419? Well, that’s pretty damn good as a batting average if you’re playing Major League Baseball. If you hit .419 today, you’d be having the best year at the plate since Ted Williams hit .409 in 1941! And, it would qualify you for the 9th best batting average of all time!

But, alas, this is college football we’re talking about, not Major League Baseball, and in college football a .419 winning percentage sucks.

In other words, it confirms exactly what Jim Mora’s critics have argued for a long time: Mora cannot win the big games.

I have to admit that I didn't even realize it was that bad until I calculated it to respond to Dan’s email. And, like I said, it includes Mora’s first three years at UCLA when we went 9-5 and 10-3, twice.

How's that for a trend for you?

But, why stop there? Let’s compare it to the guy Mora is being compared to a lot lately: former UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell.

The numbers are remarkably similar.

Like Jim Mora, Karl Dorrell beat the bad teams too. Dorrell racked up a less impressive .700 winning percentage (14-6) against the then-Pac-10 teams that finished with an overall losing record. Very good overall but .157 lower than Mora’s .857.

But Dorrell wasn’t as bad against the good teams as Mora. Dorrell won .455 (10-12) of the games he coached against teams with an overall winning record.

So, now, not only did Karl Dorrell have a better conference winning percentage than Mora, Dorrell had a better winning percentage against conference teams that finished .500 or better.

And, it further proves that, while Jim Mora may talk tough and have a personality better than Karl Dorrell, UCLA is no better off now than we were during the Dorrell Era.

I’ll close with a couple of questions for guys named Dan.

Dan Pollard, how’s that for a comparison for you?

And, Dan Guerrero, how is it that you chose to fire Karl Dorrell after five mediocre seasons, but continue to employ Jim Mora who has performed worse than Dorrell?

Go Bruins!