AssistINTROS: Noel Mazzone Pt. 3

Throughout the week, I’ll be bringing you some of the opening words from the new UCLA assistant coaches. A very energetic group, with a common purpose. We’ll continue with new UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, who came to the Bruins from Arizona State.

Jon Gold: Probably your most important task this year will be to find a productive starting quarterback, and I’m reminded by something Trent Dilfer said about elite quarterbacks, like Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Drew Brees. If you put a bunch of them in the car, who would get the keys and drive? How does that relate to UCLA?

Noel Mazzone: Here would be my rebuttal to Trent’s statement. If you have that group of guys that you’re trying to decide who you’re giving the keys to, that car would never move an inch. All five of them sumbitches are going to be fighting over the keys. That’s the guy I’m looking for. Competition builds great football teams. Competition builds championships. I tell these guys when I recruit them, you may be Scout, Rivals, ESPN, whatever, five-star prospect and you know what I’m going to do next year? I’m going to find a guy to beat you out. That’s how it should be. ‘You’re my guy for the next four years?’ No. I’m getting a guy to beat you out. And if he doesn’t beat you out, guess what? He’s getting you better every day. We’re looking at that for every position.”

JG:You got things turned around at Arizona State in a snap. What makes you think you can do that with this group? Faith in the system? Faith in your personality? Faith in the players?

Mazzone: It’s faith in the whole program. Alright? First of all, you are UCLA. Right? There’s a lot of good football players on this football team. There always is. I want my kids to play with confidence, shouldn’t I have confidence in what I’m preaching? Shouldn’t I be committed to what I’m coaching if I want them committed? Shouldn’t I have a passion for what I’m coaching, if I want them to have passion? Any coach you talk to can tell you that answer. Honestly, I’m a very short term goal guy. I really believe in the idea all I’m going to do is play the next play, and if I put enough of those good next plays together, it turns into good things. That’s how I want our players to look at it.”

JG: One of the things I think I’ve realized in watching so much football the last few years is that the difference in talent is not as important as the difference in tempo and speed of a team. Crispness. When you inherit a team, how do you start to improve that? What’s the first step in that? Have you taken that first step, or does that happen in the spring or even fall?

Mazzone:No, I think it started the first day Jim Mora showed up on campus. You look at the pace he put together he put together a staff, you look at the pace we took to make arguably a top-10, top-15 recruiting class. If I want you to play fast, I have to coach you fast, we have to practice fast. We have to be accountable. All those attributes you’re looking for in a really successful program, it’s not just done on the field. You have to do that in the classroom, meeting room, when you take your girlfriend on a date. You have to live it. I keep thinking I want guys who have a passion for what he’s doing. Those are the people I want to be around.”

JG: When you’re dealing with 18 year olds, sometimes the message gets lost in translation. How quickly do you want these guys to acclimate themselves to your style? Will there be a learning curve?

Mazzone:“There’s going to be a learning curve. What you want to be is exponential learning curve. That’s what you try for. There’s going to be a curve, everybody knows that, in anything you do, but that curve needs to grow exponentially. When it hits that, I don’t know. Who knows? Could it be second week of spring, second week of two-a-days, could be the second game. I’m a football coach. I want it to be perfect day one, reality is that possible? Possible, but it will be tough. If you could ask them to never stay the same, never worse. Every day, if we can just get two percent better from day one to day two, within 15 practices, we’re 30 percent better, with just a two percent increase. If we’re 30 percent better after 15 practices, then we’re 30 percent closer to where we need to be. Is there a process? Of course there is.”

JG: How excited are you with this group? I assume you took a look at the roster before you came in here, or did you not? What intrigued you?

Mazzone:“I tell you what intrigued me about this job. Coach Mora. That’s it. That did it. And the guys who he put in place to be on the staff with. This whole thing is about relationships. It’s about your staff’s relationships, your relationship with your players, with the rest of the building, the equipment guy. Now if you get everybody on that common thread, that common goal, it’s kind of like this.
“I went into a school a couple years back and I’m walking by the equipment room and there’s a student-assistant in there folding towels and I say, ‘Hey man, how ya doin? What are you doing?’ He looks at me and says ‘I’m working to win a national championship.’ When everybody has that, even the student assistant who’s folding towels, that he’s folding them sumbitches the best he can, you’re set. That may be the factor in winning a national championship, you never know. When you get that feeling, it becomes contagious. And I think that’s happening here.”

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  • Coach DING DONG

    Them sumbitches is sumgood answers! GO Bruins!

  • Maine Bruin

    Great interview, Jon. CNM has an interesting answer regarding tempo. “…we have to practice fast…in the classroom, meeting room, when you take your girlfriend on a date.” Isn’t being a “minute man” in every situation pushing things a bit?

  • Maine Bruin

    I love Coach’s passion and enthusiasm, but I’m glad he’s coaching football and not teaching mathematics (exponential vs. linear relationships).

    Go Bruins!

  • Anonymous

    Tell your girlfriend everyday that you’re always looking for the next girl that’s better than her to take her place. That’s the only way she’s going to get better as a girlfriend. That’s the kind of guy you are. You live to date the next girl. You don’t have time to worry about the last girl and if you can put together enough of those better girlfriends together then may be you could find yourself a wife.

  • INawe

    ‘I’m working to win a national championship.’

    It’s too bad that everyone above Coach Mora doesn’t have that same mentality.

  • Anonymous

    Practices will be a riot with CNM callin’ everybody sumbitches every 2 seconds!!!

  • Bruin Gold

    Noel knows mathematics.

    He wants the Bruin Players to EXPONENTIALLY IMPROVE.

  • Iowa Bruin

    I don’t know which is better, the interview or the comments about the interview!

  • yankeebruin

    There’s a Bruin in Iowa? Cyclone or Hawkeye?

  • Coach Thom

    There are no bruins in Iowa. You might find a few in northern Minnesota, especially in the deep woods around Bemidgi.

  • Anonymous

    Wanna see a trick?

    Log into Bruinsnation, try to “Rec” the fanpost “A Defense of Howland” and watch the Rec magically disappear a few minutes later!

  • doug4ucla

    I have been coaching many years, everybody is an All-American with no pads…….it’s what happens when you get them on…….he is right EVERYONE needs to buy in.

  • Boston Bruin

    @doug4ucla

    Agreed…and from what has been said thus far by Mora, Mazzone, et al from the new staff it seems as if those who don’t will be gone.

    As an alum who supported but was alas disappointed by Karl and Rick, I look forward to the fresh wind. I especially like that there is less about rah, rah and more about the work, dedication and connection to a specific and difficult goal.

    Hopefully they’ll take to heart the Dead’s words in “Easy Wind”:
    “Cause I’m a stone jack baller and my heart is true
    and I’ll give everything that I got, yes I will.”

    {And yes Coach Thom there are Bruins in Boston besides the rink denizens]

  • no campus

    Reminds me a little bit like the enthusiasm and blah blah that joe tresey had. We know how that turned out.

  • Fart Noise

    PPPPPPHHHHHHHHHRRRRRRRRTTTTTTTTT

  • Anonymous

    Anon @12:34 AM – If what you say is true, that should be reported to SB Nation, nationally. We can’t have that kind of site representing UCLA. BruinsNation, where censorship prevents even recommendations of the opposing viewpoint. That is the kind of thinking Hitler had, or similar to the idea that thieves must lose their hand, Murshad is not how we want to be represented nationally. It is a travesty to experience this kind of censorship. If not a technical error that is corrected immediately, those who visit that cr*p site should send email to SB Nation in complaint, because they speak of remaining true to journalistic principles. Contact them to complain at http://www.sbnation.com/pages/contact?community_id=247&return_to=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sbnation.com%2F2011-ncaa-tournament%2F2011%2F4%2F3%2F2087910%2Fncaa-bracket-2011-printable-bracket-ncaa-championship-game-2011-butler-uconn%2Fin%2F1808907

  • Nestor’s Mother

    @ Anonymouses 12:34 am and 10:23am:

    Now it makes sense. I was wondering why Nessie and boyz were snickering when I walked down into the basement with their chockie chip cookies and milk earlier this morning.

    They’re all dressed up in the blue and gold awaiting the big game, but instead of watching their cartoons, they seemed to be more interested in the pareto chart with a big circled H on the blackboard with a variety of adjectives also circled with lines linked to the H.

    Well, I guess that’s better than the last circle the boyz were involved with that I had to break up. This written one didn’t seem as creepy as them sitting in one.

  • QMPO3 Alexandra G.

    I’ve followed UCLA football for a long time. Both my parents are UCLA alum and I was born at the Medical Center…so you can say I started life on campus. As my father watches the men’s BB on TV I began reading Mr. Gold’s blog about the change in UCLA football coaches.

    I know the FB team has been pretty bad for a few years. I remember when they were good when I was very young, and have suffered with the old man through some bad seasons. It seems from reading the interviews on this blog and the UCLA site, that these new coaches sound like some of the Recruit Petty Officers I had in Navy Boot Camp. If the coaches walk the talk, UCLA FB would seem to be going in a new direction.

    I grew up playing soccer and basketball, casually slipping into the jock environment with an understanding of the sports mentality. Having played on various regional teams within the bubble of elite athletes, by my senior year I wasn’t ready for 4 more years of the same. So I turned down a soccer ride and instead enlisted in the Navy.

    As my friends went off to their college Fall sports camps, I headed off to eight weeks of Navy Boot camp, a time to learning to fit into a new system familiar, but very different from my experience over the previous decade. Recruits dropped out each week and to even get to Battle Stations, or Hell Week as civilians would call it, meant we were almost winners, since only those who successfully passed all academic and physical challenges presented during that last week “earned” the right for the final 12 hours of Camp consisting of Battle Stations. Some recruits were being dropped within a half day of graduating.

    During that last half day after not sleeping for 36 hours, we were pushed to the very brink of our mental and physical limits, not harassment or bizarre things like my friends have described for their sports hell weeks, but a test of the skills we developed to work as a team to succeed even though dirty, beyond weary, and emotionally drained. That training helped me move quickly up rate to become a Petty Officer captaining small craft off a destroyer.

    I offer this as an example that obviously can’t be used on a civilian college sports team, but the concept can be. I thought I had unified teams when I played sports, but my navy experience has taught me that what really brings “volunteers” together as a successful team is to have an individual desire to build on a skill for a common goal. In the Navy we’re trained to have 40% to 50% of our actions as habit, not decisions, so that’s why we train over and over and over again, but not to the point of boredom, but using a variety of drills done off-and-on. Even after only 2 years, I can perform duties on the bridge while half awake, or dead tired.

    I like college sports, but there’s way too many talented players full of themselves. We also have a few idiots full of themselves, and in the wrong situation they can get shipmates killed, on the sports field too many on a team means playing for a losing team. With so many national championships, I hope the UCLA football players have more pride than that, and the FB coaches step up the discipline and force the players to have personal expectations to achieve a common goal.