I tried to set up some interviews this week with UCLA’s new coaching staff, but I was rebuffed pretty quickly. “They’re pretty much all on the road,” is what I was told. Let’s just say I haven’t been told that so often in the past.
But it appears that the Bruins’ new staff is full of tireless recruiters, and the results so far have proven that to be true. UCLA has already secured the verbal commitments of 14 players since Jim Mora’s hire on Dec. 10, while losing a handful of formerly committed players, and closed the gap on some of the country’s top recruits. With less than a week until signing day, and players such as Arik Armstead, Shaq Thompson, Bryce Treggs, Kodi Whitfield and others still up in the air, Jim Mora and Co. are racking up the frequent-flyer miles.
Call it a youth movement.
As Mora’s staff started to round into form, there was a trend setting in: the assistant coaches all seemed to be around the same age. Now that the staff is complete, we have the full picture: Aside from offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and wide receivers coach Eric Yarber, all of Mora’s new coaches are between 32-44 years old, with an average age of 41.8. Consider: In 2008, Rick Neuheisel’s staff averaged 48 years old.
I’ve heard some horror stories about UCLA’s recruiting the last couple years, and the lack of emphasis put on recruiting by some of the Bruins’ elder statesmen. Ultimately, Neuheisel was left with a pretty big burden, and sometimes he succeeded and sometimes he failed. To have landed the ’09 and ’10 classes with the relative amount of help he got was a pretty big feat.
Mora, though, is no one-man army, and he recognizes that. As a first-time recruiter, he has humbled himself and accepted that so much of the game in college football is having a staff of hungry go-getters who will get out on the road and put in time to maintain relationships. In assembling a staff that is more 21 Jump Street than Matlock, Mora has brought in guys who relish some of the dirty work. Forget the ties formed between coach and recruit at each of the coach’s previous schools – relationships that have paid off handsomely for the Bruins – the coaches have been hustling.
As I’ve written before, I’ve always thought that one of Neuheisel’s biggest issues was his staff make-up. How is there supposed to be real staff chemistry when half the room is 55-plus, and the other half is under 38? One of the themes consistently mentioned by recruits in recent weeks is the team effort that UCLA is utilizing in recruiting, with Adrian Klemm, Eric Yarber, Angus McClure and Demetrice Martin frequently mentioned by recruits.
Here’s a breakdown of the new staff and their respective ages.
Head Coach: Jim L. Mora – 50
Offensive Coordinator: Noel Mazzone – 54
Defensive Coordinator: Lou Spanos – 40
Offensive Line: Adrian Klemm – 34
Running Backs: Steve Broussard – 44
Wide Receivers: Eric Yarber – 48
Tight Ends: Marques Tuiasosopo – 32
Defensive Line: Angus McClure – 44
Linebackers/Special Teams: Jeff Ulbrich – 34
Defensive Backs: Demetrice Martin – 38