In 2001, the USC Trojans made a surprising hire to be the new head coach of their football team when they brought in Pete Carroll to replace Paul Hackett. It was a bit shocking since Carroll had very little experience at the collegiate level, and because Hackett wasn’t an experienced head coach in college. He was a failed former NFL coach who decided to go back to college and try and rejuvenate his career.
However, Carroll had the perfect personality and temperament to coach the youngsters in college and it resulted in a very successful stint with the Trojans. This past summer, Jim Mora was brought in to be the new head man in Westwood as the new UCLA Bruins head coach. And some of the similarities to Carroll are extremely uncanny:
-Carroll was 49 when he was hired, Mora is the exact same age.-Both had failed as head coaches in the NFL.
-Carroll was 33-31 with the New York Jets and New England Patriots, while Mora was 31-33 with the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks.
-The last job Mora had just happened to be as the HC in Seattle. Carroll replaced him as the new HC in 2010.
Being a lifelong I wasn’t originally happy when I heard about the hire. I thought they needed a big name and experienced college HC, not someone running away from the NFL. But, Mora’s personality seems more suited to the collegiate game and his enthusiasm should be be able to help in the recruiting battle against USC and Lane Kiffin. UCLA has lost a lot of athletes in the Los Angeles area to USC and even out of state schools, such as Washington, Arizona and Oregon. Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas is a perfect example of losing players to other programs. The sophomore runningback is from LA and is the type of athlete Mora needs to keep in state in order to help them become a deeper team.
However, the cupboard isn’t exactly bereft of talent for Mora. Brett Hundley is a redshirt freshman quarterback who should have been playing last year. He might have been able to help Rick Neuheisel keep his job because Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince are just not starting QB’s. Combined, both players cost the Bruins a minimum of 2 games with costly interceptions and just dumb decisions.
Hundley has 3 solid games to start off his collegiate career this year and his performance against Nebraska in an upset game was stellar. He completed 21 of 33 passes for 305 yards, 4 TD’s and a 181.3 Passer Rating. He also ran 12 the ball times for 53 yards. And Johnathan Franklin has to be considered an early candidate for the Heisman. He is averaging 8.2 yards per carry and 180.3 yards per game. He is the best RB for the Bruins….since Gaston Green who set all the rushing records at the school.
The defense plays hard, but they are young and just not that good. The offense will be counted on to outscore the other team this season.
But, for the first time since the days of Terry Donahue and early in Bob Toledo’s time here, there is hope for UCLA fans.
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