Tag Archives: Jim Mora

UCLA Football coach Jim Mora: “We won’t wait to win”

There is no five-year plan. There isn’t a two-year plan.

Jim L. Mora wants wins, and he wants them now.

He said as much in his interview with 710 ESPN Radio’s John Ireland and Mark Willard. According to Mora, the UCLA football train is going to move pretty damn fast:

“We’re certainly not going to wait to win,” Mora said. “There is no five-year plan, there is no two-year plan. … We’re not going to put any limitations on what we can do and the governor is off. We’re going full throttle.”

“This train is moving now,” Mora said. “This train is going down the tracks and people need to jump on board and ride with us because we’re going to go do some pretty special things here in the next couple of years.”

Talk is cheap. As perennially depressed Bruins fans, students and alum, we pretty much hang this adage on a white-board in our offices and bedrooms, to remind us that, although the hype around our program is incredible, and there are signs of reasonable optimism, nothing is ever successful until it’s, well, actually successful.

This time, though? This time feels a little different (although many will claim to have said the same thing when Rick Neuheisel was hired back in 2008). This time, Mora has turned around a mess of a recruiting class and turned it into a top-10-worthy group of incoming freshman (and a junior college transfer). And this time, there are no emotional ties to Jim Mora, nor are there ties to UCLA on Jim Mora’s side of things.

The main thing is to get it done. He hasn’t made bold predictions, he hasn’t gone around claiming to take down football monopolies. He’s telling us what we all know is a requirement for any head coach: The goal is to win, and win now. No more favoring upperclassmen solely for the reason that they’re upperclassmen. No more giving kids second chances when they screw up.

Accountability and tough love is what this program needs, and that’s what Mora’s always been about.

Let’s just see if that translates to about eight wins in 2012.

VIDEO: Hey, guess which CBS Sports Analyst interviewed UCLA’s Jim Mora?

The arrival of Rick Neuheisel in 2008 brought a crap-load hype and excitement from UCLA alum, students and fans. That obviously fizzled and Neuheisel was fired this past November and the once-hopeful hiring wound up in disappointment.

Jim L. Mora is, so far, a bit of a reversed story. His hiring brought a shit-load of vitriol from the UCLA fan-base but, all of a sudden, he has the UCLA universe hopeful once more after a wildly successful recruiting season.

And those two men, for the first time in the public’s eye, spoke to one another over the phone while CBS Sports interviewed Jim Mora on his successful 2012 recruiting class. Watch:

Yes, I think that pretty much sums up UCLA. Despite the fact that Mora was met with a ton of opposition during his hiring, and despite Neuheisel’s rough firing this past fall, the two men were amicable and joking around. You can tell Rick felt everything was a little surreal by the way he spoke to Mora. When you talk to your successor at your beloved university, which you would gladly spill blood, sweat and tears for, things are bound to get a little emotional.

But Rick did not cry and Mora said the right things. No awkward TV moment, no hard feelings. While we all desperately wanted Rick Neuheisel to succeed when he was hired, and while we all begged for anyone else but Jim Mora to replace Rick, we can see the level of professionalism oozing through the YouTubez.

And that, ladies and gents, is what it means to be a Bruin.

POLL DON’T LIE: DT Ellis McCarthy

Every once in a while, I’ll present a 2012 UCLA football recruit, give reasons why he should be rated high in the context of our football program and reasons he shouldn’t be rated high. The point is to look at the context of the signing. Did we pick up a 5-star wide-out when our class already includes two of them? Did we nab a 3-star linebacker when we’re stacked with 4-star LBs?

And that’s what my job is. Your job is to give an honest assessment of the player, from a scale of 1 star to 5 stars, by voting in the poll at the bottom. Consider our current strengths and weaknesses as well as our coaching staff for the position. If you disagree with whatever reasoning I have, back your shit up in the comments.

Last kid: Devin Fuller, QB. You guys rated him an average 3.95 stars.

Today’s kid: Ellis McCarthy, DT, Monrovia, CA. Height: 6’5” … Weight: 295 lbs … 2nd-best DT in the nation

Ouch:

Ellis McCarthy is our only five-star recruit. That said, there couldn’t be a more important position to have a five-star recruit, especially here at UCLA (save for defensive end).

Why should you give him 5 stars?

McCarthy is a total freak. At his size, he’ll be one of the most dominant defensive tackles in the nation if he’s groomed correctly. Currently, Scout compares him to, guess who, Ndamukong Suh, the beastly DT out of Nebraska who’s continuing his mean-as-hell streak in Detroit with the Lions.

What’s most important, though, is that our defensive line was shoddy last year (and years prior). Our pass-rush was total trash in 2011 and it’d be nice to actually see someone get in the back-field quick enough to force some game-changing pressure on the QB. McCarthy has the size to bulldoze himself through the offensive line, and at 6’5”, he’s going to be able to get his hands up and blind most college quarterbacks.

There’s no doubt that he’s as talented as they come, and there is really no doubt that UCLA’s defensive line needs him. But …

Why should you give him 1 star?

As the case was with Devin Fuller, it’d be ridiculous to give him one star. But the issues with McCarthy are, surprisingly, more glaring than the issues with Fuller. The four-letter network’s scouting report is actually pretty scathing for a 5-star recruit. They mention his inability to explode fast enough to get off the line and beat blockers before they get in proper position. They also mention that he tends to try to get around blockers a bit too much, not something you want to see from a DT, whose job, primarily, is to clog up space in the middle, collapse the pocket, take up an extra blocker or two and allow for linebackers to close in on the back-field or to force the pocket to collapse enough so that the quarterback gets hurried and makes mistake.

Scout.com also lists an area of improvement: “Intensity/Effort.” And in case you didn’t know, “Intensity/Effort” is something we’ve been missing at UCLA for the longest time. Coach Jim Mora is definitely going to get the guys more disciplined, but does McCarthy tend to take plays off every so often, and if so, will he kick that habit?

There’s no doubt that there’s a place for McCarthy to fit in, especially since we need him, but is his work ethic a concern?

Enough from me, you guys. Your turn. Considering what I presented to you, rate Ellis McCarthy’s value to this program on a scale of 1 star to 5 stars.

How much time should we give Jim L. Mora to turn around our football program?

As you have heard by now, our recruiting class is sick (which is another word for “awesome,” old people). As of right now, we have the highest-ranked recruiting class in the Pac-12 according to Scout.com and Rivals (the first time this has happened since 2002). This comes after a bleak outlook for our beloved university’s football program, not just in terms of recruiting, but overall, when everyone was shocked to learn Jim L. Mora would become our head football coach.

Twenty-three recruits, three highly-regarded recruiters and a Noel Mazzone later, and all of a sudden, the excitement around this football program seems to have peaked for the first time in a long, long while.

Of course, many of us will enter the season with a crap-load of skepticism before getting all giddy over our football team, and for good reason: This school was equally excited when we figured Rick Neuheisel would be our savior back in 2008.

Things seem a little different this time around, for sure, but that doesn’t mean the result won’t end up the same. Which might — just might — lead to a little impatience from the Bruin faithful.

Just how impatient are we, though? We’ve been expecting to win the Pac-12 ever since the end of Neuheisel’s first year and the fan-base was incredibly upset throughout the entire 2011 campaign.

The question should be looked at more specifically, too. So, specifically, how many losing seasons will it take Mora to earn himself a pink slip? How many wins must he rack up per year to keep him on as coach? How long will we wait for his Bruins to get into a Rose Bowl (or a BCS bowl) before we say adios, amigo.

Personally? I have no idea. I can say this, though: A 6-6 season would be underachieving, but it wouldn’t be enough for me to ask for Mora’s head after the first year. 6-6 is where this team was at last season, and depending on how those six losses are accumulated (Neuheisel’s 6-6 squad either won by a close margin at home or lost by at least three or four touchdowns on the road), it might not be such a bad thing. If Mora’s squad gets, say, four of six losses by seven points or less, I can’t ask for his head immediately, because it’s possible that the team has a 10-2 record. Again, for me, everything is arbitrary.

But if Mora goes 4-8? I couldn’t stomach it, considering the team was inconsistent as hell last year and still got to .500 on the season.

Additionally, it’d be nice to get to the Rose Bowl — or a BCS bowl — within two years. If progress is slower than what I expect, I wouldn’t mind being shafted by the more-arbitrary-than-I-am BCS committee, especially if our record two seasons down the line winds up being 9-3 or 10-2.

But if there are two straight 6-6 seasons? I couldn’t stomach that either, for the same reasons I couldn’t stomach a 4-8 season to start.

But that’s me, and I don’t pretend to speak for the entire UCLA community. What say you? How patient will you be with Mora?

ROLL IN THE QBs! Devin Fuller, four-star recruit, is going to be a UCLA Bruin

UCLA football recruiting has been at its finest since Jim L. Mora was hired back in December.

And now, as a result, we’ve picked up the third-best QB in all of prep football.

Ladies and germs, I present to you Devin Fuller:

Please, close your mouths, will ya?

We already know that UCLA has done a damn fine job of putting together a class that’s right up there with the best of them after having an incredibly shoddy start to our recruiting. Mora’s acquisition of guys like Noel Mazzone, Demetrice Martin and Adrian Klemm are seriously paying its dividends before February 1 (National Signing Day).

So not only will we have a legitimate QB competition this season between seniors Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince, and redshirt freshman Brett Hundley, but we’ll also have an interesting-as-hell competition the year after with Brett Hundley likely competing with our shiny, new toy, Devin Fuller.

Add that to the fact that we have what is possibly the best offensive coordinator in the nation, a 6-foot-8-inch beast of a tight end in Joe Fauria and a nice offensive line, and we could have ourselves the best UCLA football season in damn near a decade.

Of course, receivers are going to be an issue for UCLA this year — we have one three-star commit at wide-out in Fabian Moreau — and that might be something to watch for. But considering that this is probably the best coaching staff UCLA has assembled in a long-ass time, we my have a reason to be uncharacteristically optimistic.

Jim Mora is cleaning some serious house, three players dismissed from UCLA football team

Jim Mora is a hard-nosed, no-nonsense kind of coach. Through his five years as an NFL head coach, players can attest to his don’t-bullsh**-me demeanor. You don’t get to be known as a defensive specialist by being lovey-dovey like Norv Turner.

And apparently, he’s not about to change, which, in the case of the oft-undisciplined UCLA Bruins’ football team, is a good thing.

The result, at least right now, is the dismissal of three UCLA footballers. From Scout.com:

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Wesley Flowersand freshman tight endRaymond Nelson violated team rules and are no longer members of the team, while junior defensive back Randall Carroll is no longer enrolled at UCLA.

“At UCLA, we have a high set of standards that we expect every student-athlete to adhere to. Unfortunately, these three gentlemen choose not to do so,” Mora said.

Yo, by all means, Mr. Mora (Jr.), lay down the hammer fist!

No, seriously: This seems like a good show of Mora’s willingness to implement some serious discipline into a team that gave up halfway through football games and jumps over walls to ditch practice as a tradition.

Clearly, this is a bit of a dramatic turn from softy (but totally lovable) Rick Neuheisel, oftentimes giving players way too many chances than they should actually be given. However, given these desperate times in Westwood, the dramatic measures are fitting.

This is more than just dismissing three players from the team, though. This is a message to current and prospective UCLA football players: There will be no screwing around while Mora’s in charge. Either get your act together, or leave.

I dig this, but will the players dig it?