On Tuesday, Jim Mora went on The Herd with Colin Cowherd and dropped some salacious tidbits:
"In our first interview, he asked me, 'When you think of UCLA, what do you think?'" recalled Mora. "I’m thinking, 'what do I say here? Do I tell him the truth or something like it’s a great school and we can be great?' I said, 'I think you're soft. I think the football team is soft.' Dan said, 'That’s what I think. We need to toughen it up.'"
Rick Neuheisel did not appreciate the criticism, and fired back Wednesday on his SiriusXM radio show. The Petros and Money show on KLAC then pulled excerpts of that show and re-aired them
You can listen for yourself here.
Rick begins by talking about the perceived softness of the Bruin Football program and fires back that his teams were always mentally tough despite the results on the field.
I’m glad that Jim thinks he’s toughened them up. I really am. I was 21-29 In my 4 years at UCLA. I have high regard for the kids I coached. And I don’t think for one second any one of them was soft. Do I think there were places we could have improved as players and coaches? 100%! Kevin Craft as a kid, that was my 3rd team quarterback that had to start the whole first year in 2008 was heroic in his efforts to try and be a great quarterback. But the facts of the matter are: he threw 7 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. I mean I loved him. Because he was what he had, and he tried his tail off. His first game he threw 4 interceptions in the first half. And we still beat Tennessee. We found a way. That to me is mental toughness. That to me is mental toughness; finding a way to win the game despite the fact the quarterback throws 4 interceptions in the first half.
I'm not going to argue with Rick on this one. Kevin Craft, Kevin Prince and so many others from the Neuheisel era were absolute warriors, and I for one will forever be proud of their efforts on our behalf. So, at this point, I'm absolutely on board with this.
Rick then moves into the lack of talent excuse.
We didn’t have . . We were starting 2 freshman on our offensive line that year. We just didn’t have what we needed. And, we were bankrupt. The program was bankrupt. Such as the fact that all of the coaches, myself and Ben Howland were asked to contribute part of our salaries because the Pauley Pavilion project was such a disaster. And was drowning the program. We weren’t able to do the things for the program, nutritionally, and in terms of developing our program, which, I tell you, is one of the key aspects to every successful college football program. UCLA still doesn’t have a dining room. Still doesn’t!
And, now at this point, my jaw dropped. Because he is drawing a direct correlation with Dan Guerror's horrid management to the performance of the football team. Now, this isn't the first time Rick has made these claims. And, the last time he did, we took him to task for this. At the time, it sounded like a lot of sour grapes. BUT! He's also talking about much larger issues such as the fact that the program was bankrupt. And those allegations are huge when you consider that an Athletic Director's main responsibility is to raise funds. And, the Pauley Pavilion renovation was just about the biggest boondoggle we've seen around here in the last 10 years. Everything, from the timing, to the design was handled poorly.
And, just to be that guy. We said so! Here. Here and Here. Honestly, I think there are much better Fan Posts written by the Bruins Nation founding family of Greeks that did a much better job of predicting that the Pauley Renovation was going to be as bad as it turned out to be. These examples are merely the first that popped up on my google search.
Getting back to football, I found this particular sound bite extremely news worthy, because he is talking about how that complete failure impacted all the other sports as well. We all knew the Rick Neuhisel and Ben Howland took pay cuts. But, many of us assumed that it was in an effort to help the university during a really bad economic time. This was after all, right around the time of the 2008 market crash. But, to find out that they were asked to take pay cuts?!!? At this point, I want to see proof that Cobblepot Guerrero took a pay cut as well. I am seething as I write this.
Take a breath. Breathe. Breeeeeeeathe. Let's move on.
After dropping that bombshell, he went back to the question of toughness surrounding this team.
And so, it’s why Jim Mora. His tough team ranked 87th against the run this year. It’s why Nebraska in the final game ran for 326 yards against us. They weren’t big enough. Listen. Everybody . . . I coached at Washington which is where Jim Mora went to school; everybody at Washington thinks UCLA is soft. The country thinks UCLA is soft because of their baby blue colors. I’ve heard that a zillion times in every locker room I’ve ever been in. In pro football, and every other locker room that wasn’t UCLA’s locker room. They think because of the colors that’s why. I was quick to remind them that there wasn’t anything soft about us when Terry Donahue was our coach. And we kicked . . . We were the only team that Don James the coach at Washington, had a losing record against. There was nothing soft about UCLA, nothing has ever been soft about UCLA. And, I will take anybody to task that argues differently. That was an ingrained impression that was coached into the kids at Washington because I was there. I heard it with my own eyes. The facts of the matter are we didn’t have good enough players. We were 21-29 And I’m man enough to own that record. That’s the facts. That’s what we were.
The emphasis on 'everybody' is mine. But, if you listen to the audio of the show, It is also clearly emphasized by him. Now, he makes a very subtle point here: Clearly he has heard some of the criticisms of his coaching tenure, and he has heard how well Mora's tenure compares favorably to his. But, his points are valid. But, he's not finished. And, he's not finished with Cobblepot Guerrero for that matter.
Jim Mora has done a nice job at UCLA, but to hear Dan Guerrero say that we were soft; that makes me bristle. Because, Dan Guerrero never came to practice. He never came to my office in four years. Not one time. [Not one time?] Not one time! [unbelievable] did he ever come and be a part of what was going on out there. I was told in my final year, "you make it to a bowl game; we’re fine." He knew we were bankrupt. He told me over and over again, "hey listen, we’ve got to lock arms here. We can’t make excuses and so on and so forth. You get through this, and we’ll be fine." We knew what Brett Hundley was going to do. He ended up doing it. He just did it for Jim Mora. And we go 6-6 and we get ourselves to a bowl game and I’m still let go!? That’s . . . that’s business. No tears here. I understand the business that is College Football. But the guy who is running the store knows for a fact we had nothing. And, we were given nothing to get it done. Our part time nutritionist got hired away by USC because they had the money to hire her and pay her and do what she wanted to do. These are facts.
Boy. I thought I was seething with anger before . . . I just can't.
The comments in brackets were uttered by either Petros Papadakis or Matt "Money" Smith. But even those interjections underscore how completely unbelievable these revelations are.
Rick is talking about several layers of ineptitude on Guerror's part: The complete failure in financial matters that left the Athletic Department bankrupt, to use Rick's word. The complete failure on a personal level to get personally involved with your largest revenue generator: the football program. To use Petros' word: unbelievable. And, finally we get a direct correlation how the bankruptcy hurt us: having our nutritionist hired away by the competition. Have I said "unbelievable" yet? Actually the word I feel like using is much stronger than that. But, I am unfortunately bound by the standards we moderators hold ourselves against.
Going to back to something I said earlier: I think Rick heard some criticisms lately which compare him unfavorably to Jim Mora, because he goes back to this question of mental toughness. And, he sees our lack of discipline as a sign of mental weakness:
And this tough team that Jim Mora is talking about? In the year he took over they were last in the country in penalties. Talking about mental toughness? 124th out of 124 teams in penalties. So, they got to get better right? The next year they’re 122nd The next year they’re 117th and this year they’re 123rd. Something systemic about this mentally tough team going on. All he did was go and paint the walls black, and wear black on the sideline and thinks that that’s tough. I’ve been in the locker room, there is all sorts of stuff about Sun Tzu, and the Art of War, and pain, and all that kind of stuff. He takes the team to Navy Seal training. Congratulations. I’m glad you have the money to do it. But don’t talk about toughness with my football team. I’ll go to war with any one of them. I just got a jersey from Derrick Coleman. Derrick Coleman plays with the Seattle Seahawks, and the jersey says, "Thanks coach. for hanging in there. Tough times don’t last, tough guys do." Which was our mantra. We were getting the hell kicked out of us, and my guys didn’t quit. They kept fighting. And, I’m proud of every one of them. And I’ll take anybody to task that calls them soft. Because it just wasn’t true. Baby Blue or not.
Again, the emphasis is mine. And, once again, Rick is spot on in his criticism. A whole lot of people, myself included, jumped off the Mora bandwagon this last year. I don't see this as a lack of faith, or "fanliness." I see it as clear sight. Brett Hundley's last year (Jim Mora's 3rd) was a huge disappointment. That's when the misgivings began. This last year was too much more of the same. And, that made a (non) believer of many of us. As the old saying goes: "Sports does not build character, it reveals it." And Jim Mora's latest product would show just how deep the cracks in the foundation went. The only thing different from Rick's perspective is that he has an insight from being within the program from which to launch his missives.
Over the last several years, we have openly discussed removing Dan 'Cobblepot' Guerrero. And, I think if it was up to us, he would already be gone. Among those discussions, the suggestion has been raised: Rick Neuheisel for AD. And, for those last couple of years, I always voted against it. Rick would make a great fund raiser, I would concede. But, he was entirely too happy to play the party line, too careful not to rock the boat for my taste.
But, after this salvo, I would be more than happy to consider him for the job. Rick Neuheisel drops (truth) Bombs on Guerrero and Mora.