The hiring of Jim Mora Jr at UCLA is viewed by many as a huge risk today when only a couple of years ago when Washington was looking for a new head coach he was viewed as a potential savior by many.
Mora was an extremely hot commodity back in 2008 when he was an assistant with the Seahawks. Multiple NFL teams wanted to hire him as their head coach and boosters at UW wanted to fire Ty Willingham so he could replace him. The Seahawks reacted by naming him head coach of the future to tie him up for the eventual and planned forced departure of Mike Holmgren.
So what has changed in only three seasons?
After turning down his alma mater (UW) he only lasted one season as head coach of the Seahawks before being fired in a sweeping front office regime change. He went from being hot to not overnight even though it wasn't exactly his fault.
Thanks to a huge financial settlement from the Hawks he didn't have to go back into coaching immediately. He could have easily taken another DC job in the NFL but he wanted his family to stay put for a few years before he made the next move. So he spent his time on TV and radio being a a well paid analyst rather than coaching.
Why did UCLA find him so attractive?
He was a name and he was available.
His background is very similar to Pete Carroll.
His father is in a really cool Coors Light commercial.
He initiated contact and wanted the job which was something the other supposed candidates did not do. UCLA really had to dig to find somebody interested in the job after Chris Petersen led them on and turned them down.
He also probably received an extremely strong recommendation from one of his car pool buddies and best friends Steve Sarkisian (who UCLA also coveted). Mora and Sark live on the same block and have kids who are about the same age. The two families have become extremely close since Sark moved to Seattle.
What is the risk in hiring Mora?
He doesn't have any experience running a college football program....but neither did Pete Carroll.
He doesn't have a network of connected college position coaches to build a staff with...but neither did Pete Carroll.
He doesn't have any experience recruiting and he has said in the past that it would be more of a necessary evil for him rather than something he actually enjoyed doing....Pete Carroll loved recruiting and took it to the next level so that will be a challenge for Mora.
He is extremely quotable...especially when he is hacked off...the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.
His heart will always be in the NFL, Seattle, and at the University of Washington. So if he does have success I don't see him sticking around all that long in LA because he just isn't an LA type of guy.
How will he do?
He is a Husky from the Don James family tree of football coaches...he is going to kick some butt before he returns to Seattle or the NFL. Enjoy him while you can Bruin fans. He is definitely a couple of steps up from Toledo, Dorell, and Neuheisel.