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2016 Pac-12 Football Media Days: UCLA Football Coach Jim Mora Calls Bruins “Hungry” Heading Into Fall Camp

UCLA Coach Jim Mora talked about a lot of different topics during his session at the 2016 Pac-12 Football Media Days. Among other things, the media asked him about Tom Bradley, Josh Rosen and Social Media, and why the team is only spending one week in San Bernardino.

Jim Mora answers questions from the media at Pac-12 Football Media Days in Hollywood, CA.
Joe Piechowski

This morning, it was Jim Mora’s turn to speak with the media regarding the upcoming UCLA Football season.

And, it didn’t take long before Mora was asked about the situation with his defensive coordinator Tom Bradley. The second question to Coach Mora was about Bradley.

Echoing his earlier comments to ESPN.com, Mora spoke about his concern for Jerry Sandusky’s victims, support for Bradley along with the vetting process that Bradley went through.

But, before Mora was asked about Bradley, he was asked about the fact that UCLA was picked to win the Pac-12 South in the Pac-12 Media preseason poll. "First of all, it surprised me. I thought that USC, Utah, Arizona State, Arizona, and Colorado I thought those teams would have been picked ahead of us just based on the way we finished last year in a disappointing fashion."

Wait...what? Did he really think UCLA would be picked to finish last in the South? I had to do a double take and watch the video I shot to see if he had really thought UCLA would be picked to finish last in the division, but he did.

But, later in the interview, he called the team is hungry. He said, "Hungry. Hungry. Hungry. Anxious. Challenged. Excited. I think there's just a real good esprit de corps amongst our team, one like I haven't seen maybe since my first year there, and that excites me."

As far as the McQueary deposition, Mora was asked if the allegations from the McQueary testimony was that known as a part of the vetting process. He had this to say:

Well, first of all, any time that you're dealing with sexual abuse and you're dealing with young people specifically, the first thing that you have to think about is the victims, and our hearts go out to the victim. As a father of four young children, I can't imagine the horror of being in that position, and I can't think of anything that could be more horrifying as a parent or as a victim. Our first thoughts is towards that.

Tom is a man of integrity that was heavily vetted, not just by UCLA but by others, as well. We went through a lengthy process in determining whether or not we wanted to make that hire. From our chancellor on down, everybody was involved in the decision and took it very, very seriously, knowing what the accusations had been at Penn State, not with regards to Tom but just in general. So yeah, that was part of the vetting process. We were privy to as much information as was available at that time.

That’s exactly what many of us wanted to hear from UCLA after the release of the McQueary deposition earlier this week because no one from UCLA had really spoken about the vetting process until now.

He was also asked more specifically about the information which was in the McQueary deposition and whether any further review was done because of it. Mora responded:

No. Tom made a statement through his lawyer, through his attorney, his agent, Brett Senior. I think it was very specific. I think this is a situation that has obviously been delved into at great depth, and I think Tom will stand by his statement. I'll stand by his statement, and we'll all stand by Tom and what he didn't do and what he didn't know.

He also was asked about the change to training camp from two weeks in San Bernardino to only one.

I have liked San Bernardino, and I still do like San Bernardino, and I think it serves us well to go out there. But, quite frankly, we were out there too long, and that first week you're only allowed one practice a day, and it became a little bit more of a grind and a burden on our players and our staff than I'd really like.

So what we're going to do is that first week we're going to stay at the new Luskin Center there, that beautiful new hotel on campus right at our fields. We're going to use our facilities. We'll have one practice a day. We'll have our normal walk-throughs and meetings, and then we're going to do some team activity things, some things that are a little bit different, just some team bonding things. We're bringing in some great speakers and things like that, and then we'll go out to San Bernardino that second week. We'll have two-a-days, and we're going to have nine practices in six days and really get after it and really grind, and then we'll come back and get ready for the season.

We just felt as a staff that at this point in our development that was the best way for us to go.

Another topic was came up was a question about Josh Rosen’s use of social media and Mora took advantage of the chance to more clearly present his thoughts on the matter including a reflection on the history of UCLA student-athletes taking a stance on social/political issues.

The hot tub I found amusing. I thought it was -- I thought it was a young college student having a little bit of fun. You know, the Donald Trump tweet and then the NCAA tweet, we had conversations about that and about the appearance, about the image that he's projecting for himself and for his University. But I'll tell you this: UCLA has a long history going back to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was Lew Alcindor at the time, and Bill Walton, of having people on their campus that are socially aware and not afraid to rattle the cage a little bit.

I just want to make sure that Josh understands that this is a different world and that everything that he does say is being analyzed and sometimes overanalyzed, and that he's making good decisions and thinking twice before he speaks once, and more for his future than anything else.

But he's a young man, and he's got his own thoughts, and we want to encourage that. But at the same time we want to be socially responsible.

On the injury front, Mora mentioned that Eddie Vanderdoes, Fabian Moreau and Johnny Johnson have all been medically cleared to practice when Fall Camp opens on August 8th.

He also addressed Josh Rosen’s use of social media. His comments were more tempered than they were earlier in the year when he appeared on the Rich Eisen Show.

He mentioned that he found the hot tub amusing and that he thought it was "a young college student having a little bit of fun." And, while he said that he had had conversations with Rosen about the Trump and NCAA/Under Armour tweets, he said:

[T]he Donald Trump tweet and then the NCAA tweet, we had conversations about that and about the appearance, about the image that he's projecting for himself and for his University. But I'll tell you this: UCLA has a long history going back to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who was Lew Alcindor at the time, and Bill Walton, of having people on their campus that are socially aware and not afraid to rattle the cage a little bit.

I just want to make sure that Josh understands that this is a different world and that everything that he does say is being analyzed and sometimes overanalyzed, and that he's making good decisions and thinking twice before he speaks once, and more for his future than anything else.

But he's a young man, and he's got his own thoughts, and we want to encourage that. But at the same time we want to be socially responsible.

When asked why Rosen wasn’t here, he said that he rewards two upperclassmen by bringing them, rather than trying to hide Josh. He added that Rosen will be available for interviews on Mondays during the season.

Videos of Mora’s media session are below.

First, there’s Jim Mora’s Opening statement to the media:

Mora starts his Q&A.

Mora discusses Conor McDermott in Part 3.

And here’s the final portion of Mora’s session in Part 4.

Go Bruins!!!