“I’ve made a lot of mistakes and he’s always been by my side.” These are the words Josh Rosen used in reaction to head coach Jim Mora’s firing after Saturday’s loss. Mora’s close relationship with Rosen and other players, including his willingness to defend his players in the face of controversy has been one of Mora’s saving graces. “He impacted people beyond sports,” Rosen said. “He’s an incredible person, an incredible coach, and we’ll definitely miss him.”
Other players echoed Rosen’s sentiments. “He loves all of us and it’s hard to see him go,” stated offensive lineman Scott Quessenberry. Linebacker Kenny Young said “It’s been tough...[Mora] has been the reasons we’ve been having better performances.”
Here’s Josh Rosen’s and Kenny Young’s interviews, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Here’s Quessenberry’s and Adarius Pickett’s full interviews, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
These players remind us of the personal connection many of them held with Mora, who personally recruited nearly every player on the UCLA team, and had a personal relationship with many. This is an issue which I think hasn’t been talked about much in the wake of Mora’ firing. For all his apparent coaching flaws, Mora has always seemed to maintain strong relationships with his players. Mora has always been a paragon of professionalism and respect, something that is not necessarily true of many of the candidates to replace Mora.
Meanwhile, Interim head coach Jedd Fisch met with the media for the first time since Mora’s firing. When asked if he would like to be considered for the head coaching job next year, Fisch responded “I think that anybody would like to be the head football coach at a prominent university.”
One thing that Coach Fisch mentioned is how the existing staff is going to go about recruiting until a new head coach is named. “We’re going to recruit to UCLA,” Fisch said.
Unfortunately, it appears that that message did not get through to at least one recruit as linebacker Jonathan Perkins decommitted yesterday. Perkins tweeted this message.
Here’s Coach Fisch’s full interview, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.
Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley met with the media after practice yesterday. He spoke about how the players practiced hard yesterday. He also talked about how the players have a chance to play with their teammates one last time and he explained how he remembered his last game against Pitt in 1978 as well as how much Coach Mora meant to everyone off the field. “This team loves him and loves the way he treated them and all the time and effort that he gave that people don’t see,” Bradley said. “People just see the field part. They don’t see the off-the-field-part...how much he cared about each and every one of us....”
Rosen and others have reacted positively to Fisch and his role as interim head coach. “He’s been awesome...there’s a pretty good energy moving forward.” Rosen also stated that he’d love to see Fisch get a head coaching job. “I think he deserves a shot at being a head coach, whether here or somewhere else.” Rosen declined to offer an answer on a question many have asked: “Will the departure of Mora influence Rosen’s decision to stay or declare for the draft after this season?”
Despite the drama surrounding the rest of the season and the unanswered questions which linger, everyone who talked indicated that the season was not over. Players all noted that they’re focused on qualifying for a Bowl game and finishing the season with a winning record.