Here's something nice: UCLA Coach Jim Mora is a lovable loser

Ask Mora anything about UCLA's 43-17 loss to California and he could not be any more accommodating or thoughtful, which is so different from the clipped clichés he usually offers after games.

It's a difficult admission, one that would trouble my poor mother if she were still alive.

But on occasion, I can be critical here.

I remember my mom once telling me, "If you can't find anything nice to write about someone, then go do a boxing, tennis or horse-racing column so no one will read it.''

Obviously, that brings me to the mother of all challenges: Monday's assignment to write about UCLA after the Bruins were clobbered, 43-17, by a doormat like Cal.

I begin by knowing I've already caught a break. I'm a DirecTV customer, so I don't get the Pac-12 channel and didn't see Saturday night's fiasco.

I really don't know what happened, so I'll be asking Coach Jim Mora to tell me what I missed. That's so much better than explaining to him how he blew it.

First, I stop at the UCLA student center for a cup of coffee, an old habit from my days trying to stay awake during Karl Dorrell's news conferences.

The young girl at the cash register wants to know if I'm a student. Who knew we had the same major?

At the same time, I notice the student newspaper, and are there any bigger optimists in this world than student newspaper reporters?

Sam Strong writes about the UCLA loss in the Daily Bruin, and as I read it I get the feeling he wishes he went to USC. He's obviously never had to deal with Lane Kiffin.

Strong writes: "When Mora is pressed for an answer in an interview, he always falls back on the three pillars he hopes to kick-start this program on — discipline, accountability and toughness.

"None of them showed up on Saturday.''

It's a good thing newspapers will be gone before Sam grows up and goes strong on the Dodgers.

But I was curious to see what Mora thought of the kid's work. So I read it to Mora and ask whether it's true.

Mora begins by saying he's impressed with how hard his team played, and here I'm wishing I had gone venti rather than tall before he catches himself and says, "You should play hard.''

If you start counting the wasted minutes in life listening to a coach not answer a question, it's almost a lifetime.

Strong's column "is inaccurate in terms of toughness; we did play with toughness,'' says Mora. "I would question the discipline because of the penalties; penalties can be an indication of [a lack of] discipline, but I don't think we're an undisciplined team. I think we just made some mistakes.

"And our guys are accountable to each other."

I don't say anything about accountability and Mora's still not apologizing publicly to a fellow UCLA employee after publicly cussing him out, because isn't that Athletic Director Dan Guerrero's job?

I just note Strong has it all wrong according to Mora, and so obviously the kid's going to be a good one.