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UCLA Football: Doing Less With Mora

The fact that UCLA Football has underacheived since Jim Mora took over has been written about ad nauseum here. Now, the mainstream media is starting to notice. Finally.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Colorado
Jim Mora offers a “Surrender Cobra” during the 2016 Colorado game.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve written in great detail about how UCLA Football has underachieved under Jim Mora. Others have finally started to notice.

Athlon Sports has an article from Kyle Kensing looking at the final Pac-12 recruiting rankings, going back to the 2013 recruiting class, and discussing the on-the-field results. Now, that’s not completely fair because the 2017 recruiting class doesn’t take the field until September, but it does show you where to expect a program to go because, as we know from Bill Connolly’s Blue Chip Ratio, effectively recruiting talent generally is one of the best predictors of wins on the field.

It’s also how we know that the other big variable is development of that talent and deployment of that talent. As Connolly discusses development is generally limited due to NCAA restrictions. That’s why talent deployment, aka coaching strategy, is also very important.

Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the LA Daily News and InsideSoCal has an article based on the Athlon story. And, earlier today, she tweeted a key graphic from that story.

Essentially, she has plotted successful recruiting against on-the-field success. A program that falls on the purple line has had as much on-field success as their recruiting should provide. Colorado falls right on the line at this point, buoyed by their very successful 2016 season.

Four programs, Oregon, Washington, Washington State and Oregon State are very close to the line but are a little bit above the purple line that means that they are all very slightly overachieving, but not by much. They’re essentially where they should be. At the same time, the Arizona schools fall just under that midpoint line and could also probably be considered to be where they should be based on their recruiting.

Then, you have a few schools whose on-field success is much better than their recruiting in Utah and Stanford. This goes back to my suggestion that Kyle Whittingham be given strong consideration to replace Jim Mora. His Utah teams don’t get as much talent from recruiting, but their on-field success suggests excellent coaching. Meanwhile, Stanford is off-the-charts compared to its recruiting.

On the underachieving side, you have UC Berkeley. Let’s face it: The Bear Raid strategy employed by Sonny Dykes was a disaster. They didn’t have the right personnel for it. And, with Southern Cal, the team underachieved with both Kiffin and Sark. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them both elsewhere.

That brings us to UCLA, a team whose on-field results has clearly underachieved compared to their recruiting results. The excuses are aplenty. “Rosen played 5 games,” said Jim Mora to ESPN on National Signing Day. Mazzone left. The line has been terrible. Most of the defense was injured in 2015.

But, all the excuses in the world don’t change the fact that Jim Mora has not accomplished as much at UCLA as he should have considering the amount of talent he has successfully recruited to UCLA and he needs to have a big season this coming year or he should be shown the door.

Go Bruins!