Saturday, December 10, 2011
On Jim Mora resurfacing as UCLA's coach
By Mike Sando
A few thoughts and notes on former Seattle Seahawks coach Jim Mora emerging as the next coach at UCLA:
- Mora's contract with the Seahawks runs through the 2012 season. The team is still paying him.
- The Atlanta Falcons were still paying Mora when the Seahawks hired him as an assistant under Mike Holmgren before the 2007 season. A year later, the Seahawks announced Mora had signed a five-year deal that would make him Seattle's head coach once Mike Holmgren stepped down.
- Mora has been working for NFL Network and as a Fox game analyst with play-by-play man Ron Pitts. He was scheduled to work the Atlanta-Carolina game Sunday. Update: This section amended after another member of the Pitts-Mora broadcast team, sideline reporter Drea Avent, deleted her tweet about Mora expressing interest in the UCLA job last week.
- I've long thought Mora might be well suited for the college game, but I never envisioned him coaching for one of Washington's conference rivals. Mora played for the Huskies. He was blindsided when the Seahawks fired him to hire Pete Carroll. Now, he'll be coaching for UCLA against his alma mater -- and against Carroll's former right-hand man at USC, Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian. Weird.
- Mora is tireless. He keeps himself in freakishly good physical condition. He's extremely competitive. Those qualities should serve him well as a recruiter and in general. The college game also requires coaches to become schmoozers. It requires them to relate with boosters, speak at banquets and kiss up to high school players (and their parents). Mora has a hard time hiding his true feelings. He is not a schmoozer. This could be interesting. Eventual clashes with university administrators would come as no shock.
- Mora will probably be back in the NFL at some point. I wouldn't be surprised if he eventually coached at his alma mater, either. He's only 50 years old.
- Mora's search for a staff at UCLA could target some current NFL assistants. Mora has ties to San Francisco 49ers running backs coach Tom Rathman. They were assistants together for the 49ers years ago. Greg Knapp, quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans, was Mora's offensive coordinator for the Seahawks. Ed Donatell, the 49ers' secondary coach, was Mora's defensive coordinator in Atlanta. Mora's defensive coordinator in Seattle, Gus Bradley, remains in that role and presumably would have nothing to gain by taking a college job. Seahawks line coach Tom Cable was once rumored as a candidate for the UCLA job. Mora's hiring ends any shot at that happening, a good thing for the Seahawks.
Looking forward to Mora's introductory press conference. He could be entertaining -- sometimes a little too entertaining for his own good -- in those settings.