Something is seriously wrong with UCLA Football. Over the last thirteen games against Power Five schools, The Bruins are just 3-10.
This is a team in decline under its current leadership. In the first 3 years of under Head Coach Jim Mora, the team finished 1st in the Pac-12 South and 2nd twice. Last season, the team finished third. This year, it will finish either fourth or fifth depending on what happens next weekend. The team is moving backwards, not making progress.
Last year, it was somewhat understandable. The number of players who got hurt on the defensive side of the ball was almost unimaginable. Yet, somehow, some way, this year’s team has done less with Mora.
This is a team which was picked to finish first in the division. It was a team that was expected to go to Santa Clara in two weeks to play for the Pac-12 Championship. Some people even predicted the team to win it.
Why were expectations so high for this team? Talent.
After establishing a trend of recruiting success, the talent is there. SB Nation’s Bill Connolly listed UCLA among 13 teams that could make the College Football Playoff this year, due to a stat called the Blue Chip Ratio.
Yeah, that’s the kind of season this has been.
But, there cannot be any Mora excuses.
After five season at the helm, UCLA Coach Jim Mora has a worse record in conference than the guy who was so frustrating that he caused the creation of this site: former Bruin head coach Karl Dorrell.
Let me try explaining this in terms that a certain former baseball player who is now UCLA’s Athletic Director might understand. In baseball, there is a reference stat called the Mendoza Line. Wikipedia explains the Mendoza Line like this: It “derives from the name of shortstop Mario Mendoza, whose poor batting average is taken to define the threshold of incompetent hitting.”
Well, in UCLA Football, we have the Dorrell Conference Line. That’s a conference winning percentage that defines the threshold of mediocre conference play.
The Dorrell Conference Line, or DCL for short, is .571.
As of this morning, Jim Mora is under the DCL for the third consecutive week with a conference record (including the 2012 P12CG) of 25-20 or .555.
Not even a win at Berkeley next week can lift Mora’s record above the DCL.
I’ve written before about that one of the reasons I hated Terry Donahue so much was because, in the first quote I ever read of his, he spoke about how he hoped the team would play well enough to win the conference and get to the Rose Bowl.
Rose Bowls?!? Don’t talk about Rose Bowls! We haven’t been one in 20 years.
Sorry for that outburst. Donahue’s quote upset me because he should have been talking about winning a national championship. Well, Mora used to talk about winning a national championship. Now, he just talks about how his backup quarterback played with grit.
But, the ultimate building block to get to the College Football Playoffs is, in fact, winning the conference championship.
Mora hasn’t been able to even get his team to the conference championship in four of his five years at UCLA.
Does anyone really believe that Jim Mora is going to have this team prepared to bounce back and make the P12CG next year?
“But Colorado,” you say?
Yeah, well, the Buffaloes were on an upward trajectory even last year when they came into the Rose Bowl and almost beat us.
There is absolutely nothing to indicate that the UCLA Football program is moving in an upward trajectory.
“But..but injuries,” you say?
Fine. Last year was an off year because of the sheer number of injuries on the defensive side of the ball.
“But Rosen was hurt,” you say?
Why did it look like there’s been no development or even the recruitment of a competant backup. That’s not a knock on Mike Fafaul. The kid has played his heart out.
But, he has just been in over his head.
During training camp, I wrote that if the unthinkable happened and Josh Rosen got hurt, Mike Fafaul was the most important player on the team. But, I also wrote that, if Rosen couldn’t start a game, one of the freshman QBs should get the start.
Jim Mora has proven that he’s as stubborn as his old man. He stubbornly chose to stick with Fafaul as his starting QB. That’s called a coaching decision and the results indicate that it was a poor one.
Are you really telling me that Mike Fafaul is the best healthy QB we have on the roster?
Maybe our recruiting isn’t what it’s been cracked up to be.
But, the fact is it isn’t just quarterback play that has the team at 4-7 going into the final game of the season.
This team has underperformed miserably. That’s on Jim. There can be no Mora excuses.
Jim Mora must be held accountable.
Yeah, Mora has a $15M buyout. But, like Alford, that’s not a lump sum. It isn’t like Dan Guerrero would have to cut Mora a $15M check as Mora packed up his office. It would be due in monthly installments as if Mora were still employed by UCLA.
Is it a lot of money? Hell, yeah. But the fact is that if that’s the cost of getting UCLA to elite status in college football. It would be money well spent.
In fact, it would be better spent to send Jim Mora packing than it would be if he were kept on as head coach.
At this point, I believe most Bruin fans agree with this.
But, the question which needs to be answered is: Does Dan Guerrero agree with it?
We cannot go into the offseason hoping next season will be better. Hope is not a strategy.
Bruin fans deserve better.