The Pac-12 Conference has changed, and UCLA seems to be keeping up with the cash-and-carry-the-day crowd.
There was a time, just a few years ago, that UCLA didn't retain football coaches; it fired them. Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel all came and went. So this week was unfamiliar turf for Athletic Director Dan Guerrero. He handled it without stumbling.
Keeping his football coach this week was a significant step. Washington officials were willing to pay a lot for Jim Mora, which was clear Friday when they gave Boise State Coach Chris Petersen a five-year deal reportedly worth $3.6 million a season.
UCLA is now able to compete in that kind of financial arena, thanks in a large part to the Pac-12's television deal.
"You go back to 2003, when I made my first [football] hire, the economic situation was completely different," Guerrero said. "That was a constraint, a barrier, to being competitive. We couldn't snap our fingers and come up with dollars."
Now they can.
The television deals with Fox and ESPN have beefed up budgets throughout the conference. UCLA's share this year is expected to be about $16 million.
UCLA pays coach salaries from the athletic department's budget. No state money is used.
Dorrell made $600,000 in 2003, his first season, which was increased to $850,000 in 2007. Mora made $2.2 million this season. The two-year extension is believed to be about $3 million.
"It's a big game-changer across the conference," Guerrero said about the television revenue. "The coaches who have been hired, the practice facilities, for basketball and football, are due in a large part to that windfall."
Quarterback Brett Hundley and offensive lineman Xavier Su'a-Filo will file paperwork to gauge their NFL prospects. Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to declare for the draft.
Hundley, a sophomore, and Su'a-Filo, a junior, will consult with Mora, who spent 25 seasons in the NFL.
"I have sat in on 25 drafts," Mora said. "I know exactly what they are looking for. I want to help them make the best decision."
Mora said the decision will be tougher for Hundley as a quarterback.
"The pressure can break you fast," Mora said. "All you have to do is look around the league and see some of these guys that came in with great acclaim, but maybe weren't quite ready. It's not long before they sit you down and try to find someone else."
In short, Mora said, "It is the ultimate league, not for 'what have you done for me lately,' but 'what have you done right now and what will you do for me tomorrow.'"
Hundley said among those he will consult will be former UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin, who is with the Green Bay Packers.
"I think of him as being a big brother," Hundley said. "He can give me a different perspective because he's in the league."
Kennedy Polamalu, hired as UCLA's running backs coach, attended the Bruins' practice Saturday.
"I was shocked as anyone else when I got the phone call," said Polamalu, who played and coached at USC. "I'm still kind of in shock."
Polamalu, who was an assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns, said he knew Mora from the NFL.
"People who worked for him, who knew, said he was a good man," Polamalu said.
It was a welcomed move in his home. Polamalu may have a USC background, but said, "My wife graduated from UCLA, my in-laws are all UCLA graduates. They teased me that I finally saw the light."
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