I really don't want to spend time thinking about TARA and his basketball program today. So let's get back to our other major revenue program that is actually kind of fun (and may turn out to be the only "major revenue program" for next few years). As some of you know UCLA held an open practice today.
Not sure who made it down there. Thankfully Edward Lewis from BruinSportsReport.com made it down and he has posted couple of videos that are worth checking out. Let's start with Jim Mora's post-practice presser who had a lot to talk about after one of the best weeks for UCLA football in more than a decade (well, that's saying something about Chianti's incompetent reign before he lucked into Mora). Anyway, here is the video (thank you BSR TV):
You should watch the whole exchange. Here are some of the highlights:
- Going for win no. 10: Mora like he usually does mentioned there was a lot of good "energy" at practice. He talked about how the whole is looking forward to our bowl game and a chance to go after win number 10. He said that getting that 10th win is "especially important" to the seniors, as getting to that marker would be "cherry on top" of their careers. He told the reporters that his team doesn't care where they play and who we play.
- Reps for the young guys: Mora said the practice was used to get reps for lot of non-starters including the two backup quarterbacks. He name-checked Asiantii Woulard and Mike Fafaul. I am assuming Jerry Neuheisel is still recovering from his minor hand surgery.
- The "interesting" week: Mora than talked about his "interesting week" saying that it was "mostly recruiting," He shared a funny story about how Angus McClure was sharing updates from his smart-phone on all the breathless speculation around the intense pursuit by the Washington Huskies.
- Political HTs for his two (mostly tonedeaf and incompetent) bosses: Given the savvy politician that he is (a big part of this job) Mora then made sure to give a public hat-tip to UCLA's two stooges - Dan Guerroro and Gene Block. It was amusing to see him talk about the "shared vision" he has with Chianti Dan and how they are "joined at the hip" even though the reality here is he had to leverage the intense pursuit from his alma-mater to extract real commitments from an over-paid, lazy athletic director, who flushed the football program down the toilet before lucking into Mora.
- Update on new facilities: Speaking of commitment to football, Mora gave a general update on fundraising for the facilities and mentioned that he and the players spent a lot of time with the architects this week.
- Brett and XSF's NFL "future": Mora also talked about the NFL futures for his two key stars - Brett Hundley and XSF. He said that he has had some discussions with XSF but hasn't had the opportunity to have a detailed give and take with Hundley yet. He talked about how given his NFL experience he can provide them with good access to key perspectives from leagues sources. He mentioned in a very humble way that he is "uniquely qualified" to consult them through this process given his experience as he has sat through 25 NFL drafts. It was interesting how he differentiated between Brett and X's situation and how the "pressure is enormous" as a first round QB. He also talked about X being older and also playing at a less glamorous position.
Mora then talked about his newest hire - running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. He talked about Polamalu with reverence suggesting he is "widely recognized" as "one of the best" coaches for running backs and "men" in college football. He talked about Polamalu's "integrity" is "beyond reproach." Here were Polamalu's comments to reporters after practice (thanks to BSR TV):
Polamalu said that it was "absolutely unbelievable" (in a good way) for him to be in Westwood. It was interesting to hear from that he was "shocked" when he got the call from Coach Mora. He gushed about Mora being "the right man" a "leader of his family," who he was happy to be around.
It sounds like Polamalu is ready to hit the recruiting trail "now" as he just passed the NCAA test on recruiting rules and regulations.
He also said it didn't feel "weird" for him to be in Westwood in his UCLA gear because his wife and his in-laws are all UCLA graduates. Don't forget he was also a graduate-assistant during the Donahue years.
Polamalu said his "running backs" were "reserved" today because they are still getting to know him and because of their "great relationship" with previous coach. However, he pledged that he won't let those guys down that he will develop a relationship with them that will go beyond their careers as student-athletes at UCLA. It was good stuff.
Lastly, going back to Mora's comments about it was interesting to hear from him that he doesn't expect any more changes in his staff. Of course, that's not a surprise because I wouldn't expect any HC to say he needs to make changes publicly. He called his staff one of the best not just in college football but football.
Well there is no doubt Mora has some talented coaches in his staff who have been heavily pursued by other programs. But given what we have seen this past year, there is still big question mark around the Noel and Taylor Mazzone in offense. While the game against Southern Cal finally gave all of us a sense of temporary relief wrt to the offense, it is unclear right now whether our offense can be consistently formidable with an unproven coach tutoring the QBs and playcalling, which has been less than dynamic through Mora's second season in Westwood.
Guess, we will see how the bowl game goes in few weeks. We will find out who the Bruins need to get ready for tomorrow. Let's get that 10th win and finally have the most meaningful 10 win season since the late 90s.