The meltdown of the fan base in Westwood has been entertaining to observe from afar. Bruin fans were, understandably, hoping to attract a "name" rising star in the mold of a Larry Fedora, Art Briles, or Dan Mullen to fill the hole left by the firing of Rick Neuheisel.
UCLA fans struggle to accept that being the second best college football team in LA and the head coach at a basketball stadium isn't really all that attractive an option for rising coaches who may have only one shot in their lives to truly "cash in" on their rising stars.
Don't believe me? Name a young football coach who ever took a chance on coaching at UCLA and saw it become a launching point for a long and stories career? Go on. I'll wait.
Still, the reaction over at Bruins Nation is stunning, even for them. They are spewing hate for Mora (despite their contention that they only "hate the hire").
I believe that Mora is a good hire for them and I'd build my case on a few key points:
1. He is the anti-Kiffin.
JMJ is everything that Kiffin is in terms of energy and charisma, but his personal style is the opposite. He's tough. He's mean. He's mature. He tolerates no nonsense. He is D first. He will present to LA recruits an alternative to Kiffin that is unique and differentiated. Players will see that contrast and have to decide if they are Mora guys or Kiffin guys.
2. He's a lifer.
Forget all this "successful in the pros vs college games" nonsense. Mora has been a football guy all his life. He has been trained to coach since the day he was born. He has a network of football relationships that dates back three generations. This challenge isn't too big for him and attempts to discredit his qualifications through lame "win - loss" analysis is intellectually insulting. This is a man who has been sought out for his football smarts at all levels and as recently as this season has remained in demand at both levels.
3. D First.
Dan Guerrero recognizes that coming up with another offensively minded young coach isn't any better than a copycat strategy in a league that features high flying teams in Eugene, Tuscon, Seattle, Pullman and across town. Mora is the only candidate they had that actually has elite qualifications on the defensive side of the ball. He can differentiate UCLA in this regard and give them a chance to win
4. Mora wanted to be there.
Compare and contrast this fact to all the other guys that were lukewarm about the opportunity in Westwood. Seriously, the fact that he wanted to be there and wanted to compete with USC and wanted to coach in the PAC means a lot. He has good recruiting contacts on the west coast and he has a huge NFL network. All of these are assets that he wants to leverage for UCLA. That is great for them.
What do you guys think about Mora to the Bruins? Leave your comments.
Apologies for typos- I typed this up on my iPhone this morning.