There have been some really interesting hires this off-season in the land of College Football. Among others…Arizona grabbed Rich Rodriguez, Washington State got Mike Leach, Kansas hired Charlie Weis, New Mexico dusted off Bob Davie, Ole Miss hired the Blind Side Coach and Ohio State took Urban Meyer away from his family. My least favorite hire in that group was without a doubt Charlie Weis. That is until UCLA hired Jim Mora.
Rick Neuheisel was supposed to get the UCLA program back on track and was supposed to challenge rival USC. After four years and a 21-29 record Rick Neuheisel was shown the door. Neuheisel was a coach who was an eight year College Head Coaching veteran when he took the UCLA job. He also had significant experience as an assistant in college. He couldn’t get the job done.
UCLA has made the decision to hire Jim Mora. Jim Mora’s experience has come almost entirely in the NFL. In 1984 Jim took a job as a Grad Assistant under Don James at Washington. In 1985, he moved on to the NFL and hasn’t looked back since except for an illadvised interview he did when he was Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons in which he said his “dream job” was with the Washington Huskies. After going 26-22 and leading the team to a progressively worse record in each year, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank showed Jim Mora the door. Mora found a landing spot in Seattle with the Seahawks and was then surprisingly promoted to Head Coach in 2009 when Mike Holmgren retired. That gig would last only one year as the Seahawks went 5-11 and Pete Carroll was looking to get out of USC before the NCAA caught up with him.
After 26 years away from the college game Jim Mora has now returned to the level where he began his coaching career. My concerns are that Mora has virtually no experience in college recruiting, coaching against college offenses and defenses, the rubber chicken circuit, making sure kids are going to class/staying out of trouble, etc. Mora is the type of guy who was born on third base thinking he hit a triple. I’m sure he knocked it out of the park in his interview with AD Dan Guerrero but I just wonder if he has the temperment and ego, or lack thereof, to make it work with the Bruins).
Mora has shown in the past that he is a hot head and has a history of being abrasive and stand-offish with the media. Now that he has served as a member of the media I wonder how much he will change. You don’t have to be friends with the media but it’s nice to have a good working relationship with them especially when your hire is a controversial one and you are stepping into a tough situation.
More importantly than his relationship with the media is the coaching staff that he chooses. The only way Mora will be successful is if he hires an all-star coaching staff. I’m not talking about guys with big names (like Kansas hiring Charlie Weis) but guys who know college football inside and out and allow Mora to simply be the figure-head, make the big decisions and be the guy that closes deals in recruiting battles. Jim Mora has his work cut out for him, I hope he really understands what he needs to do to be successful and doesn’t let his arrogance get the better of him like he’s done in past jobs.