UCLA: Jim L. Mora

Mora: UCLA has 'renewed committment' to football

December, 15, 2011
UCLA coach Jim Mora told ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd on Thursday that the school administration has a "renewed commitment" to the football program that will enable UCLA to compete on a financial scale with some of the top programs in the country.

"Not that there wasn’t a commitment because I think there was, but a renewed commitment to providing the resources that need to be provided to put UCLA on scale with everybody in the country," Mora said during his appearance on The Herd.

One of the knocks against UCLA over the past decade is that the school has gone bargain hunting for coaches and assistants and been tight with purse strings when it came to facilities upgrades. The school has refused to accept outside donations to help offset those costs, but that appears to be changing.

Mora signed a five-year contract for $12 million, which is nearly double the $1.25 million per year Rick Neuheisel made. Financial details on his staff are not yet available, but he bringing is some established coaches and rising stars, who won't come cheap.

Mora also revealed that the school is currently undergoing a feasibility study to improve the facilities. Athletic director Dan Guerrero said last month there were plans to upgrade Spaulding Field, the Bruins' practice field. Currently the facility has two fields, but they are only 80 yards long.

"I think it’s something you always want to be doing," Mora said. "You always want to be upgrading, you always want to be showing a commitment."

Mora added that the facilities aren't as bad as the stories he had heard about them.

"I heard a lot of talk about the facilities here being subpar to others around the country," he said. "I can say that I’ve been to most colleges in the United States, I’ve been on their campuses, I’ve been in their meeting rooms, I’ve been in their weight rooms, I’ve been in their facilities. So I was pleasantly surprised when I walked on to campus on Tuesday and got a chance to go into our football building and got a chance to go into our offices."

'Not a normal situation' for UCLA coaches

December, 14, 2011
The fate of UCLA's coaching staff remains in limbo Wednesday, even after incoming coach Jim Mora met with each coach individually Tuesday after noon.

The holdovers from Rick Neuheisel's staff will remain on board to coach the team through the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 31, but Mora, who attended practice Wednesday for about 15 minutes but did not speak with reporters, is expected to bring in his own assistants.

He has already hired Washington cornerbacks coach Demetrice Martin and is close to adding Arizona State offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, SMU offensive line coach Adrian Klemm, and Arizona State receivers coach Steve Broussard. Marques Tuiasosopo, recently named quarterbacks coach, is also expected to remain on as tight ends coach, but that leaves little room for the other current coaches.

"I talked to him briefly but we didn’t talk about anything whether I was going to stay or if I was going to go," interim coach Mike Johnson said.

Johnson previously served as offensive coordinator and receivers coach, so bringing Mazzone and Broussard aboard could mean Johnson's chances are slim, however there is no indication what jobs those coaches will have at UCLA. Johnson could also remain as quarterbacks coach.

"I’ll just have to wait and see what happens," Johnson said. "I have to look at all my options and then I’ll go from there. I like UCLA. I like L.A. and if the right opportunity comes up, I’ll definitely look at it."

Jim Mastro has reportedly already agreed to take a job with Mike Leachat Washington State. Mastro was not at practice for the fourth consecutive day, but that is because of a personal matter and not the Washington State job. Mastro will be back for the bowl game.

Also, defensive coordinator Joe Tresey left practice midway through Wednesday's session. Johnson said Tresey had to attend to a family matter, but acknowledged the regime change is a trying time for the staff.

"It’s a situation that is not normal," Johnson said. "It’s not a normal situation. You have guys that have things they have to do to take care of themselves. It’s a situation where we’re coaching a football team and some guys don’t have jobs after the 31st of December."

Johnson is reportedly a candidate for the open head coaching job at Akron, though he said he hadn't heard anything further on that front. For now, he said, he's focused on getting the team ready for the bowl game.

"All I worry about is what I do day to day," Johnson said. "That’s how I’ve always lived my life. I’m very confident in my abilities. I know I’m capable of doing a high job if given the opportunity. If someone wants to go on a different direction, that’s their right. I’ll find a job somewhere if it comes to that. But at the same time, Jim Mora has a job to do and I can respect that. If I’m part of that, then I’m part of that. If not then I can deal with that also."

Brehaut still hopes to play baseball

December, 14, 2011
Quarterback Richard Brehaut said he still intends to play baseball this spring, though he acknowledged that he hadn't yet cleared it with new coach Jim Mora.

Brehaut had an agreement with Rick Neuheisel that allowed him to play baseball as long as he did not miss any of spring football practice. He balanced both by skipping baseball practices and games when they interfered with spring football, but was a member of the Pac-10 champion baseball team. He did not appear in a game.

"I’m definitely playing so I hope he’s OK with it," Brehaut said. "That’s something I’ll have to sit down and have a talk with him about. I proved that I can do both and be successful this past year so I hope that he understands that and the feeling is mutual."

Asked what he would do if Mora was not OK with it, Brehaut said he would have to think long and hard about that situation.

"If he forces me to make a choice, I’d definitely have to sit down and have a long talk with my family about that but that’s something that is in the future and I’ll talk to him about that so we’ll see," he said.

Mora gets standing ovation at first meeting

December, 13, 2011
UCLA football players met new coach Jim L. Mora for the first time Tuesday following practice during a meeting that lasted nearly 30 minutes.

"He walked in and got an ovation from the whole team," junior quarterback Richard Brehaut said. "I think every one of us looks forward to getting to know him over these next couple of months and moving forward with him as a program."

Mora, according to one player, asked the team not to tweet about the school. A handful of UCLA players used Twitter last week to voice their displeasure about an issue with the distribution of their bowl checks.

"There's going to be some changes," Brehaut said. "He's going to hold guys accountable for every action -- whether it's on the field or in the classroom -- everything is going to be accounted for. Competitive greatness is something we're going to strive for every day.

"I'm excited for the change and excited to get to know him on a personal level," Brehaut added.

Tuiasosopo gets into groove as new QB coach

December, 13, 2011
Just like at every other practice this season, the UCLA quarterbacks briefly huddled up Tuesday morning while the rest of the team stretched in the background. Then, interim quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo -- who stepped in when Rick Neuheisel was fired -- joined them.

The huddle disintegrated following a quick chant, and each quarterback broke away with a signature dance that's been fine tuned throughout the year. Tuiasosopo didn't hold back, either.

"I want to give him a seven out of 10," freshman Brett Hundley said of Tuiasosopo's dance moves, "but I'm being pretty nice."

"He's are better than I expected, but he's still sub-par," junior Richard Brehaut said, laughing. "He was a little bit stiff but, other than that, I'll give him an A for effort."

Tuiasosopo, who before the promotion served as an intern, apparently brings a rejuvenated approach to the position. There were limitations, per NCAA rules, on what he could and could not do as an intern. Now there are no restrictions, and Tuiasosopo has embraced the freedom.

"I'm able to be with the quarterbacks in the meeting room, and I can give my 100 percent coaching them," Tuiasosopo said. "I have no stipulations. It's been a great opportunity for me."

The quarterbacks praised the job Neuheisel did as their position coach and haven't noticed major changes between the two. Tuiasosopo, a former second-round draft selection of the Oakland Raiders, was a quarterback at Washington while Neuheisel was head coach of the Huskies.

"Coach Neuheisel, he was the head coach, so he had to be paying attention to other things," redshirt junior Kevin Prince said. "Coach Tui' is focused on us all day. The only thing he cares about is the quarterback position, so he's a lot more attentive to the little things we're doing."

Tuiasosopo, 32, said he knows newly hired coach Jim L. Mora "pretty well" from his time at Washington, and that he "would love to stay" as quarterbacks coach past Dec. 31, when the Bruins take on Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.

"We'll have a chance to speak to coach Mora at some point this week and he and the administration will make those decisions," Tuiasosopo said.

Other news and notes from Tuesday’s practice:

• Immediately after the post-practice huddle, players scurried off Spaulding Field for a meeting with Mora. The meeting went on inside the Bud Knapp Football Center for close to 30 minutes.

• Starting middle linebacker Patrick Larimore had surgery on his injured thumb and did not practice. Interim head coach Mike Johnson said Larimore will most likely be outfitted with a cast and should play in the bowl game. "He's not out," Johnson. "I think he's going to come back and try to play. He's questionable right now."

• Junior defensive end Datone Jones threw a punch at offensive lineman Brett Downey. "That's what happens when you run all those plays and have all that testosterone going," Johnson said. "Sometimes you get upset. One guy pulls another guy, but you can't lose your cool. It has to be part of our discipline heading into this game."

• Johnson said he had no update on the possibility of him taking the head coaching position at Akron. "It's the same as yesterday. Nothing has changed," Johnson said.

• Running-game coordinator Jim Mastro, who reportedly has been hired as an assistant at Washington State, was not at practice for the third straight day.

• Sophomore offensive lineman Chris Ward is scheduled to undergo left knee surgery and is out indefinitely. Safety Dalton Hilliard wore a red no-contact jersey, while Tony Dye, Sean Westgate and Alex Mascarenas did not dress.

• Brehaut made the two best throws of the two-hour session, hitting Shaquelle Evans on a skinny post for a long touchdown and, a few minutes later, lofting a soft fade pass to Derrick Coleman down the sideline.

Mora: 'Hopefully we win a lot of games'

December, 12, 2011
Newly hired UCLA football coach Jim L. Mora, who will be introduced Tuesday afternoon, called in to his former post at NFL Network on Monday and discussed his plans for the Bruins. Here's what he said:
“Hopefully we win a lot of games and make people proud to be Bruin fans. We have a lot of work to do between now and then. We’ll try to take it in chunks and accomplish as much as we can every day. The first thing is to put together a great coaching staff, a bunch of guys that can recruit and that can motivate and teach and mentor our young student athletes. And then go out and find some players that love to compete and are tough, hard-nosed, athletic guys that can run and hit. Put those two forces together and see if we can’t go win some football games.”
Click here for audio of Mora's brief appearance with former colleague Brian Billick on "The Coaches Show."



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