UCLA can act like it has an elite football program by keeping Jim Mora

UCLA Coach Jim Mora has led the Bruins to a 9-3 record this season, including a 35-14 win over crosstown rival USC at the Coliseum on Saturday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Memo to UCLA officials: Either you want to be an elite football school or you don’t.

Already the Internet crackles with speculation that Washington has eyes for Bruins Coach Jim Mora. That started the second the news broke that Huskies Coach Steve Sarkisian was headed to USC.

Mora spent his high school years in Bellevue, Wash., just a stone’s skip across Lake Washington from Husky Stadium. He played at Washington. His first coaching job was as a graduate assistant for the Huskies. He coached the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 and kicked around the Washington campus for a couple years after being fired by the NFL team.

Those facts have UCLA fans twisting in the wind at the moment.

Here’s the thing . . . elite programs fend off such advances.


If Texas fires Mack Brown, do you think for a second that Alabama officials will wait around, fretting? The blank term sheet will be on Nick Saban’s desk before Brown cleans out his desk.

When Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon flew to Baton Rouge to chat with Louisiana State Coach Les Miles in 2011, all he got was a good Cajun meal. LSU gave Miles a seven-year contract extension.

Granted, Saban and Miles have won national titles. Mora has not. But you have to start somewhere.

UCLA has a history of being cheap. Assistant coaches don’t get paid enough to live in Southern California. UCLA is notorious for its red tape. New goal posts arrived in 2008 and sat in a storage shed for four months, awaiting paperwork before they could be installed.

Elite programs fend off poachers. UCLA is not an elite program yet. But athletic department officials can act like it is one.

Mora wants a football house? Build it.

Mora wants more money for assistants? Pay it.

Mora wants ice cream? Ask if he prefers chocolate or vanilla.

It’s what elite programs do.


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