LOS ANGELES (CBS) — UCLA’s new football coach, former NFL coach Jim L. Mora, says his first job is to hire a team of experienced recruiters.
Another immediate goal: to close the gap between crosstown rival USC.
Mora was hired late Friday to lead the hapless Bruins, and said his 20-plus years of coaching the in the NFL — but never at a college — was a plus and not a minus.
“I will use the credibility that I’ve gained in coaching in the NFL for 20 years,” said Mora, who was born in Santa Monica and grew up watching his father, an assistant coach at UCLA, Occidental and other schools.
UCLA Athletics Director Dan Guerrero said Mora will have a five year, $12 million contract plus incentives and bonuses.
Mora said hanging around the University of Washington football program after being dumped as Seattle Seahawks coach in 2009 inspired him to the “purity” of collegiate sports, where he said students “love to compete and thrive on competition.”
In a phone call from Charlotte (he’s working Sunday as a analyst for Fox Sports), Mora expressed short patience with football coaches who make technical errors. He promises to be completely involved with offense, defense and special teams. “You will hear me on the headsets in all three areas.”
That said, Mora acknowledged he was not familiar with what may be UCLA’s biggest problem: recruiting new Bruins after years of humiliation by USC and a losing record this year. “I plan to attack recruiting with a relentless passion, to hire great recruiters with experience in recruiting, and I’m going to turn them loose,” he said.
Guerrero said the amount of time that it took to find and hire Mora was not an indication that coaches were snubbing the UCLA job. “I had a short list, as I indicated form the very beginning,” Guerrero said. “And Jim was on that list.”
The Bruin job is the first head coaching at a college for Mora, whose only previous college coaching experience was as a graduate assistant coach at the University of Washington, his alma mater, in 1984. Mora will also be the first UCLA football coach who was not either a former Bruin or an assistant coach since Red Sanders was hired in 1949.
Mora does have two connections to UCLA. His father, Jim E. Mora, a former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts coach, was a Bruin assistant coach in 1974. During a portion of the Mora’s tenure as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, their general manager was Terry Donahue, UCLA’s coach from 1976-1995.
Mora has been an analyst for Fox and the NFL Network since being fired after coaching the Seahawks to a 5-11 record in 2009, his lone season as their coach.
Mora had a 26-22 record with the Falcons from 2004-2006. He had been as assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers, Saints and 49ers.
UCLA has been searching for a coach since Rick Neuheisel was fired Nov. 28 after four seasons, posting a 21-29 record, including a 49-31 loss to Oregon in the inaugural Pacific-12 Conference Championship Game Dec. 2.
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