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Spaulding Notes: Mora & UCLA’s “Special” Connections With Washington

News and notes from UCLA’s practices and on the Huskies as the Bruins get ready take on Washington at the Rose Bowl.

Scott Halleran

Let's pick up where we left of yesterday.  Yesterday when Mora talked to local reporters he had his game face on, and called Washington just another game.  While that maybe Mora's public posture, as reported by seasoned Washington Huskies beat reporter Bob Condotta in the Seattle Times today, Mora has some special connections with the Huskies program.

Mora is "good friends with" UW athletic director Scott Woodward, who had offered Mora use of UW's training facilities when he hurt his knees for about six months in 2011. Then there is also this:

How invested was Mora in Washington? Well, he was a walk-on player at UW in some big years in the early 1980s. His dad Jim worked with and for Don James, which brought the families so close together the younger Mora was babysat by James' elder daughter Jill, and in turn, Jim later baby-sat the James' younger daughter, Jeni.

Mora's wife Shannon is a former UW cheerleader, and earlier this fall, when he hatched a surprise 50th birthday party for her, the site was downtown Seattle, not Los Angeles.

Okay then.  Good thing is that Mora has such a supportive buffoon of an AD at UCLA (oh, wait).

Moving on to another storyline connecting UCLA and UW, Josh Shirley - the former UCLA signee who was dismissed from the UCLA football program as a result of allegations of on-campus theft - is now a backup DE for the Huskies. Shirley (along with Shaquille and Paul Richardson) was given the option by then UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel to attend a community college for a semester to get his act together and prove he was worthy of wearing the Blue and Gold before requesting reinstatement to UCLA.  Instead he chose to run to Washington (while the Richardsons ran to Colorado and Arizona). In any event here were Sarkisian's comments on Shirley this week:

"We recruited Josh extremely hard coming out of high school, so I knew Josh, I knew his father, I knew the family," Sarkisian said. "Kids are going to make mistakes; I'm aware of that. I've got 105 sons between the ages of 18 and 22 years old, so we're not going to be perfect. So just like with anybody, when a kid makes a mistake, we try to assess the error in judgment and really try to identify, ‘Is that really who he is or is that out of character?' And I really felt the mistake Josh made at UCLA was out of character.

"So we brought him in. Part of the stipulation when we brought him in was we were going to redshirt him his freshman year, which he was probably good enough to play. And in that time, and all the way up till today, he's just been amazing. He's been a good student, he's been great in the community, he's been a good teammate. I couldn't ask for more than what he's brought."

Shirley, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior, is listed as the backup to sophomore Cory Littleton at UW's rush-end hybrid linebacker position. He's one of the pass-rushing specialists called upon in UW's "Jetsons" package.

That's all great.  Bits it's still worth noting that while Neuheisel made the right decision in dismissing him and the Richardson cousins from the program, IMO UCLA should have never released those guys to other Pac-12 programs. It all goes back to the stupidity of Guerrero.

Now on the positive side, speaking of another player with connections to both Washington and UCLA, here were Sarkisian's comments on Myles Jack:

Myles had been very adamant that he wanted to play linebacker, and we were aware of that. We felt physically he could be a running back, but he was adamant about being a linebacker, and I think he'll continue to be. I don't foresee him getting 30 carries Friday night, but we'll see. He's a tremendous athlete on defense and at linebacker and on special teams, and obviously you see his talent at running back. Obviously, we recruited Myles hard - as hard as we could. It was choice that he made to go to UCLA; it's a good school, a good program, a good coach. Just like they have a player from Washington here, we've got quite a few good football players from L.A. that are on our team. Kids make the choices, they make ‘em in the best interests of what they think is best for them and their future and their family, and you put your roster together and go play. It is what it is.

Worked out well out for us. Elsewhere, here is UW's DC Justin Wilcox with some generic compliments about Hundley as dual-threat QB and Mazzone's offensive scheme.

Lastly, speaking of coordinators here are our guys after practice at Spaulding today. Here is Lou Spanos answering questions on Washington's offense, their outstanding RB Bishop Sankey, superstar TE and continued developments of numbers of his players including Jordan Zumwalt and Myles Jack. (thanks to for the videos):

Nothing earth shattering. And here is Noel Mazzone, who said Brett Hundley "looked sharp" today:

Mazzone was asked about the status of Jordon James but he didn't really have any definitive updates. I will let you interpret him by watching the video. Chime in the comment threads if you thought Mazzone said anything useful. No, I didn't write that to be critical. But sometimes I wonder what exactly are the use of these give and takes as they often don't result in anything beyond token sound bites. Discuss.