“Consider Yourself,” at Home; Consider Yourself, One of the Family — New UCLA Football Head Coach Jim L. (“I’d Do Anything”) Mora is “Reviewing The Situation,” before making a single “Twist,” after being introduced at a Press Conference full of “Food, Glorious Food”
Never before has a boy wanted more-a.
If Dan Guerrero knows anything, it’s probably catering. And that seemed to be demonstrated by the spread at the Jim L. Mora Press Conference on Tuesday afternoon. Fresh fruit, homemade cookies of various varieties, and the piece de resistance, Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie pastries topped with a caramel drizzle and white-chocolate chips. They could have been introducing Ted Tollner as the new Coach after that, and I still would have been smiling.
But enough about the delicacies. Tuesday was the introduction of the new Leader of the Bruin Football Team, Jim L. Mora. And before you start making “Playoffs?!?, Playoffs?!?” jokes, that famous rant was delivered by Jim L. Mora’s DAD, Jim Mora, NOT by Jim L. Mora himself. Jim’s Dad was a famous and successful Head Coach in the NFL, but he also made some horrible decisions, like attending U$C for grad school. And if you think that makes Jim L. a trojan by association, consider this: Jim L.’s MOM went to U$C as an undergrad. OH, NO!!! Did Dan Guerrero hire a trojan-by-birth as the Bruins’ new Head Coach?
Apparently not. Jim L. swears that both his parents are now BRUINS, 100%. But I’m still very, very worried about Jim L.’s understanding of the Rivalry. When talking about his credentials as a Football guru, he mentioned some of the players he was around in the NFL, and one of the first guys he mentioned was RONNIE LOTT, one of the DIRTIEST trojan players of all time. Lott is T.J. McDonald’s probable role model.
And Mora showed absolutely no sense that he just put a famous trojan up on a pedestal. What’s next? Is he going to talk about what a great Running Back O.J. Simpson was? So, I was DYING to ask Jim if he had any respect for the Rivalry. But before I could, someone asked him about competing with U$C. Of course, Mora defelcted the question by giving the standard answer that he will take care of UCLA’s Program first and foremost, and worry about U$C later, when it’s time to play them.
Okay… that’s a logical answer, and a solid, sensible approach to the problem. But I was still worried that he wasn’t on board with the Rivalry. Then someone told him just how bothered “we” are by “50-0.” And thankfully, Mora said: “We ALL are.” That means that he is now a BRUIN, and “WE” means all of us Bruins, and yes, 50-0 is disturbing, disgusting, and totally unacceptable.
That made me feel a lot better, but I’m still not convinced. It bothered me that Rick Neuheisel went to U$C Law School, and that trepidation was validated when he tried to hire trojan-for-life Rocky Seto as Defensive Coordinator — So the fact that Mora was raised by a trojan and a trojan-sympathizer, does that mean that he’s going to hire UCLA TRAITOR Ken Norton Jr. as HIS Defensive Coordinator? I want the Bruin Head Coach to HATE our Rival, and do everything he can to beat them — I DON’T want a guy who admires that program and wants to hire people who showed undying allegiance to it.
And that’s my biggest worry about the new hire. Everything else pales in comparison. He certainly understands that UCLA is known for superior academics, and he plans on keeping it that way, recruiting only students who will excel in the classroom as well as on the field. He also understands the natural allure of UCLA, with its beautiful campus and prime location. He said that the school essentially SELLS ITSELF. Kids who want to get a good education will want to come to UCLA. People who want to learn from a no-nonsense, hard-nosed Coach who will teach them what it takes to get to the NFL, will want to come to UCLA. But he also said that just because the school sells itself doesn’t mean that he won’t be out there selling it himself, with all his might. In fact, he said that he was going to start immediately after the Press Conference.
Although he will immediately start Recruiting — which also means retaining the prior commits — he said (when asked three times by three different people in three consecutive, separate private interviews) that his “biggest challenge” would be prioritizing all the various challenges. Besides recruiting, hiring Assistants would be right up there. Mora vowed to assemble one of the finest Staffs in all of College Football. Hours after the Conference, it was reported that he was zeroing in on a couple of highly-respected Assistants who worked for Dennis Erickson at Arizona State last year, so it appears that he IS getting right down to business.
He met with the players on Tuesday after their practice, but he said that he will NOT get too involved with their preparation for their Bowl Game. He doesn’t want to be a distraction in that regard. Makes sense.
As for what Offense he will run, he said something very interesting, refreshing, and enlightening:
His Offense will not have a name.
That means that it won’t strictly be a Pro-Set Offense, or a Spread, or the West Coast Offense, or the Pistol. Instead, it will be a hybrid that is specifically designed to maximize the Bruins’ individual strengths. So there is no plan until Mora evaluates the talent he has to work with. Then he will strategically create schemes to take advantage of the best that his roster has to offer. Again: MAKES SENSE. Best case scenario (in MY mind, not his): Brett Hundley develops into a game-changer, and an Offense is drawn up to showcase his immense abilities, like elusively scrambling (by design) for huge chunks of yards.
Mora talked about discipline, and about recruiting kids who WANT to play for UCLA, and who love Football, and who want to work hard and maximize their potential. In other words, he basically “said all the right things.” And, learning from the mistakes of “others” before him, he also twice said that he was NOT going to make any bold predictions (i.e. the monopoly is over) or make any silly statements. But he DID say that he plans on bringing the “sleeping giant” that is UCLA Football back to elite status, competing for Pac-12 Titles, and entering the discussion for National Championships. But when asked if he prefers the BCS or a Playoff System, he laughed and refused to answer, saying that he wasn’t going to be drawn in by that question. Although Jim was no-nonsense, he still exhibited a sharp sense of humor. He’ll NEED it, as he faces all the hurdles inherent in his new job, as he deals with a severe lack of support from fans as well as the Administration.
And speaking of the Administration, one other question that came up repeatedly was that of “facilities.” Mora said that he will do what he can to have the facilities upgraded, BUT… He insisted that the lack of quality facilities at UCLA was being greatly exaggerated by the Media. He said that he has been all around the Country, and seen all the facilities at most of the Nation’s colleges, and that UCLA’s actually compare favorably with MANY, MANY other schools. He says that UCLA’s are not that bad at all, but he would still endeavor to get everything to a state-of-the-art level, because it DOES influence recruits in a very persuasive way.
Speaking of positively persuading recruits to come to UCLA, below are 30 photos from the event, including 18 of the UCLA Spirit Squad. Interstingly, the Spirit Squad was NOT a part of Rick Neuheisel’s introduction Press Conference. So already, The Mora Era is getting off to a better start than the previous regime.