Jim Mora comments on Lane Kiffin’s firing

Half a day after USC fired coach Lane Kiffin, UCLA’s Jim Mora was asked what he thought of the news. He kept his remarks short and civil.

“I certainly feel for him on a personal basis,” he said. “I’ve known him a long time. It’s disappointing. You never want to see anybody lose their job. He’s a good person. I just wish the best for him.” Continue reading

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UCLA moves up one spot in AP poll, USC drops Lane Kiffin

Another bye, another jump.

After moving up two spots during its last weekend off, UCLA again made gains in the AP poll despite not playing a game. The Bruins are now ranked No. 12 in the country, ahead of South Carolina and behind Oklahoma. UCLA last made the top 10 in October 2005.

Elsewhere in the conference, Arizona State earned its way back into the rankings at No. 22 by trouncing USC, 62-41, and getting Lane Kiffin fired. Trojans athletic director Pat Haden decided to ax him during the third quarter.

The complete AP poll, with Pac-12 teams bolded: Continue reading

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Details from John Savage’s max $1.125 million extension

After winning UCLA baseball’s first-ever national championship, head coach John Savage was rewarded with a contract extension that pays him up to $1.025 million annually, plus a $100,000 signing bonus. His previous contract maxed out at $501,000.

The UC regents officially approved the contract on Sept. 18. USC reportedly offered Savage over $1 million after he won the College World Series in June.

The terms make Savage, who also won multiple national coach of the year honors this summer, among the highest-paid college baseball coaches in the country. LSU’s Paul Mainieri earns $750,000 in annual guaranteed salary.

The particulars from Savage’s contract, which runs through 2025: Continue reading

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UCLA officially signs five-star guard Isaac Hamilton

Steve Alford’s recruits haven’t taken the usual route to UCLA. The first was his son. The second, an athletic forward who originally signed with Texas Tech in 2012.

His latest is Isaac Hamilton, a five-star guard whose eligibility for the upcoming season is still in doubt. The Bruins officially announced his arrival today, stating that the McDonald’s All-American signed a scholarship offer on Thursday.

“Isaac is a big, versatile guard and will fit well with our system of play,” Alford said in a statement. “We are excited he is a Bruin today.” Continue reading

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Bye weekend gives UCLA coaches chance to recruit

– With no practices until Sunday, UCLA will take the rare weekend off to hit the recruiting trail. Linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and receivers coach Eric Yarber are already on the road, and were absent from Thursday’s practice.

“It’s nice to go out 3-0,” head coach Jim Mora said. “People take a little more notice when you’re having success.”

The staff will get one more window to travel in-season next weekend after visiting Utah on Thursday.

– After rushing for 3.86 yards per carry under Karl Dorrell and 3.88 under Rick Neuheisel, UCLA’s running game has ticked up to a 4.74 average under Jim Mora. That the Bruins have maintained their success is a testament to offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, whose schemes emphasize creating space.

“When you spread the field and you make it wide, it’s tough to defend,” Mora said. “We’ve got guys doing a really nice job up front. Our receivers block well. … Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: How Chip Kelly built his prolific offense

» A good read on how former Oregon coach Chip Kelly perfected his offense in New Hampshire.

» Oregon receiver Josh Huff’s relationship with his mother has been fraught with pain.

» Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks says he’s the best receiver in the conference. He also paints his toenails.

» Just how much does it cost to fire a coach? Cal is still $2 million short of what it needs to pay for the transition from Jeff Tedford to Sonny Dykes. Continue reading

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Notes from John Wooden Tipoff luncheon

UCLA’s Steve Alford was among the several Southern California head coaches who attended the John R. Wooden Award Tipoff lunch Wednesday, and previewed the Bruins to members of the Los Angeles Athletic Club. He was not available for questions afterward, but made a few comments about the team.

Some quick notes from the day:

– Alford said center Tony Parker had a great summer, and also grouped Kyle Anderson with Jordan Adams and Norman Powell as “big, physical guards.” The coach didn’t go into the rotation in detail, but UCLA’s lack of depth in the frontcourt likely necessitates Anderson playing more point forward than guard. Continue reading

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Running back Damien Thigpen to return against Utah

Next week, Damien Thigpen will take his first game snaps since tearing his ACL last November.

The senior shed his no-contact red jersey early this month, and had long pegged the Oct. 3 game as a potential comeback date. Last year, the speedy running back finished third on the team with 849 all-purpose yards despite sitting out the final three games of the season.

His return crowds a backfield that has performed surprisingly well so far this season, but he could also be used as a slot receiver in certain packages.

“It would be great to get him a few carries,” head coach Jim Mora said. “It’s not that you want to get your running backs hit, but when you’re coming off an injury like that, it’s important that you take some shots. You build confidence when you do. We’re going to give him a couple of carries at least.”

Mora added that Thigpen isn’t ready to work as a kick returner yet — he took back 14 for 376 yards in 2012 — but could see special team snaps in another role. The coach has also seen enough that he no longer cringes when the senior takes a hit.

“I was three weeks ago. Now I’m not,” Mora said. “I’m not just because of his body language. He’s very confident and he looks like he’s going full-speed through his cuts. He’s not tiptoeing through the holes. He’s hitting it.”

– UCLA has what Mora said amounts to 2.5 bye weeks this year: the one that prefaced the Nebraska game, this week, and the extra days following next Thursday’s game. If he only had one, however, he choose it use it now to help his players adjust to the first day of classes. Continue reading

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Jim Mora wants UCLA to build one of country’s top facilities

– Jim Mora is still working on his wish list for what he wants in UCLA’s new $50 million football facility, officially announced this morning.

“Our goal is to make it one of the top facilities in the country,” he said. “I think we have to be really good about looking ahead and seeing what types of technology are going to be available five years from now and move in that direction.

“We only get one shot at it. It’s not like you can get another shot here in the next 25 years.”

– Asked about an ideal completion date, Mora said: “Tomorrow. If it could be done by tomorrow, we’d be happy.”

– As a longtime NFL coach, Mora was familiar with using less-than-glamorous digs. On Jan. 26, 1995, when he was a defensive backs coach in New Orleans, a two-alarm fire forced the Saints out of their main building.

“The sauna caught on fire and they burned down,” he said. “We brought in trailers and the trailers were a huge upgrade to the facilities that we had. So I’ve never been one that thought facilities won football games for you.” Continue reading

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Weekly Q&A — 9/23/13 Answers

Q: Can you give us a list of the true freshmen that have played and those who have not and will presumably redshirt?

These freshmen have all played: WR Darren Andrews, OL Caleb Benenoch, S Jayon Brown, DL Kenny Clark, P Sean Covington, WR Thomas Duarte, DE Kylie Fitts, S Tahaan Goodman, LB Deon Hollins, LB Myles Jack, LB Cameron Judge, WR Jalen Ortiz, OL Alex Redmond, LB Isaako Savaiinaea, DE Eddie Vanderdoes, CB Priest Willis.

Asiantii Woulard will redshirt barring significant injury to quarterback Brett Hundley. Running back Craig Lee looked headed for a redshirt in fall camp, and UCLA has more than enough bodies in its backfield rotation. Unless a player higher up in the depth chart gets nicked, the freshmen who haven’t already burned their redshirts probably won’t do so.

Q: How does Massington look in practice? Do you think he will play this year or redshirt? If the latter, is it health related or simply because we are stacked at WR this year? Continue reading

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