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The Jim Mora Hat Trick: UCLA Football’s Third Choke in Three Years

For the third straight year Jim Mora choked in a huge game with championship on the line for UCLA. We compile the excuses.

Harry How/Getty Images

With apologies to Achilles I will start this post with a little MOOD MUSIC:

For the third time in as many seasons Jim Mora laid a massive egg with championship in the line. Three years ago he cost the Bruins a trip to the Rose Bowl with more than questionable game management decisions against Stanford. Then last year he had a brain fart and decided to go with Myles Jack exclusively on offense, which played a big role in Bruins' choke job against Arizona State at the Rose Bowl.

Then today happened. With a chance to erase all the lingering doubts, Mora's Bruins put together the most disappointing and demoralizing choke jobs in UCLA's history dating back to December 5, 1998. Some may suggest the loss against Arizona in 2005 was just as bad, but let's get real here. That team was led by a joker, which never had a realistic shot at achieving something special.

This team had all the parts in place. No need to go in detail justifying our expectations of at least a trip to the Pac-12 championship game, because we did that in posts after posts all through the off-season. Observers both inside and outside the program, including by the coaches and players themselves, agreed upon those expectations.

But here we are. Excuses are coming from everywhere and flowing all over the internets from Mora himself and all the usual coach defenders. So I thought I assemble all the major excuses in one thread (ht dodgergabe26 for inspiration):

  • It's the players' fault silly. Just like (as N pointed out) it was there fault in previous 6 times Jim Mora lost (some would say choked) against Oregon and Stanford.
  • [In Mora's words] We are still closing the gap against Stanford (the same Stanford team that lost 5 games including piss-poor losses against Seven Win Sark and a bad Notre Dame team).
  • Our players were emotionally spent after the rivalry game (don't mind the facts that Stanford was also coming off a huge game against their rivals and the Bruins were supposed to be fresh because they let off the gas pedal during the fourth quarter against Southern Cal).
  • Our team is too young and inexperience (forget about the fact that the Bruins were led by a Junior red-shirt QB, who was a pre-season Heisman contender, and senior MLB, who is one of the best LBers in the country. We are not going to bother mentioning the other talented seniors who played their last game the Rose Bowl today).
  • Look you ingrates - We've got "NINE WIN JIM."! That's better than "SEVEN WIN SARK"! AM I RIGHT? AM I RIGHT? (Shhh, don't tell anyone that right now Jim Mora has accomplished as much as Jeff Tedford).
  • No other coach has won 9 games in his first three seasons you ingrates! (don't tell anyone we didn't have 12 game seasons back in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s).
  • WOTT! We are 3-0 against Southern Cal!! (even though they were coached by Hello Kiffin, Ogre and El Siete).
  • We need to give him more time to change the culture, it takes a long time to change a culture.

Anyone else we missed? Let's make the list here.

This can be our annual end of regular season excuses thread!

Oh what the hell - here is one more song for the night to get you in the mood for listening to excuses:

Go Bruins!