Just five days remain before signing day, and new UCLA head coach Jim Mora is ready for it to be over.
Not because he is not enjoying the process – put simply, he’s loving it – but because he’s just ready to get pen to paper and get to work on changing some things around UCLA.
Mora sat down for a long phone conversation about the whirlwind that is January, and how the coaching staff’s chemistry and energy is paying off…
Jon Gold: How are things going as the recruiting season winds down?
Jim Mora: “It’s been fun, it’s been educational, it’s been challenging. I’ve enjoyed it. As much as i’ve enjoyed it, I’m ready for it to end next Wednesday. I want to get these guys locked up.”
JG: A new coach coming in has only a couple options: A complete attitude overhaul or maintaining status quo. You seemed to have gone with the first; did that change how you recruited?
JM: “We had a choice with this first class. We could’ve conceded it and focused all efforts to 2013. We chose to to attack it. If the status quo was OK, I wouldn’t be the head coach here, the last guy would. Status quo is unacceptable. Rather than say, oh well, forget this year because we’re a year and a half behind, that’s not the makeup of this staff. We said lets go, and we’ve been going.”
JG: Does that overhaul start with this class? Is that what you’re looking for out of your guys? Can the overhaul start with the players from the previous regime?
JM: “That doesn’t mean they don’t become our guys. None are my guys, they’re UCLA guys. There’s going to be a standard for UCLA football that our guys are going to be expected to maintain, to take pride in playing to. Whether they were recruited by us or others, when they step on the field, they represent the same thing. There will be some who rise to that challenge, and some who won’t. My feeling from being around these guys, my gut feeling, is that most of these kids are excited and anxious to recreate UCLA.”
We’ve heard talk of a new disciplinary system, a strike system; how are you trying to change that culture now, even before spring ball?
“We’re looking for three things; accountability, discipline and toughness. That’s our focus and aim in everything we do. To create those things.”