UCLA: Bob Toledo

Jim Mora is a change of pace for UCLA

December, 10, 2011

And so UCLA’s coaching search is over after 12 days.

Now, will the decade-long mediocrity end?

Jim L. Mora will take over the UCLA football program, and while it may seem like it took forever to hire Rick Neuheisel’s replacement, 12 days really isn’t all that bad -- especially when you compare that with the amount of time UCLA’s football program has basked in the company of second fiddles and also-rans.

Jim Mora Jr
Jerome Davis/Icon SMIJim Mora has zero UCLA ties. And, in the end, that may be a good thing.
True, Mora isn’t exactly the splashy, big-name hire many UCLA fans were hoping to land, but there are reasons to believe his hire makes a lot of sense.

First, he has no UCLA ties in his past. Second, he is a defensive-minded coach. Third, he has no noteworthy experience as a college coach.

That bucks the trend of the past three UCLA coaches who are seen as the holy triumvirate of mediocrity. Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Neuheisel were all Bruins assistants at some point before they became head coach; Dorrell and Neuheisel were UCLA players.

Mora has no such ties, unless you count the one year his father spent as a UCLA assistant in 1974. But Mora was 13 at the time and probably not all that in tune with UCLA’s football culture.

That makes him the first football coach without a UCLA playing or coaching background since Red Sanders left in 1957. A fresh perspective may help rid the program of the-way-it’s-always-been-done attitude, and that would be a good thing because the way it’s always been done isn’t working.

Over the last 13 seasons, with Toledo, Dorrell and Neuheisel leading the way, UCLA is 80-78 -- just beyond perfectly average.

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