Mora on San Bernadino training camp

Jim Mora has made his stance firmly known.

No girlfriends. No friends. No family.

At least for two weeks.

The new UCLA head coach stressed discipline, accountability and toughness at his first Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday as Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal Studios. Step one – or two or three – in the process: bringing his team to San Bernardino for fall training camp.

“My thoughts were very simply that I wanted us to be in an environment where were somewhat isolated as a football team,” Mora said. “It’s important as we start this journey that we know each other very well. At the end of day in camp, some of these guys would be going back to their apartment. I don’t want that. If we’re talking to someone, I want it to be teammate or coach. I don’t want girlfriends there. I don’t want friends there. I don’t want parents there.”

Mora determined early that the program needed an attitude adjustment in order to find success, and a quick glance at the conference’s preseason media poll shows that the Bruins still have a lot of work.

UCLA was selected third in the Pac-12 South Division, two slots behind conference-favorite USC, though the Bruins picked up two first-place votes.

Perhaps a trip to San Bernardino will move them up the rankings.

“Coach has pretty much instilled being accountable to ourselves and our teammates,” said sophomore safety Tevin McDonald, who represented UCLA at Media Day along with senior running back Johnathan Franklin. “That’s something we might have been lacking over the years. We’re trying to be reliable teammates. Be there. Be able to be counted on every Saturday.”

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Pac-12 Media Poll released

NIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – USC is the favorite to win the 2012 Pac-12 Conference football title in a preseason poll of media members who cover the league. The Trojans were listed in the top spot in the South Division by 117 of the 123 voters participating in the poll, collecting 729 points. 102 of those pollsters tabbed the Trojans to come out on top in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Utah was picked to finish second in the South Division, collecting one first-place vote in the balloting for the division race. Arizona State claimed three of the other five first-place votes, with each of those members of the media casting a vote for the Sun Devils to capture the Pac-12 title.

Oregon was picked to win the North Division, garnering 732 points and 117 first place votes, while Stanford, which tallied five of the other six first place votes, was pegged to finish second in this year’s poll. California, predicted by the voters to finish fourth in the North Division, claimed the remaining first place vote.

The media poll has correctly selected the Conference Champion in 28 of 51 previous polls, including 11 of the last 12. Following are the results of the preseason media poll (points 6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses):

NORTH DIVISION
1. Oregon (117) 732
2. Stanford (5) 533
3. Washington 502
4. California (1) 382
5. Washington State 228
6. Oregon State 205

SOUTH DIVISION
1. USC (117) 729
2. Utah (1) 514
3. UCLA (2) 435
4. Arizona 385
5. Arizona State (3) 353
6. Colorado 164
PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: USC (102 votes)
Others receiving votes: Oregon (18), Arizona State (3)

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Pac-12 Media Day here

Hey guys and girls,

The start of the season is upon us, as breakfast has been served and it’s time for Pac-12 football media out here at Universal Studios.

The themes of the day:

A third of the conference has new coaching staffs, including UCLA.

Offensive firepower is a little unknown this year as plenty of talent has left the conference the last couple years – where will the stars come from?

What does Jim Mora think about his program’s summer training?

What else do you guys want to know?

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Absolutely incredible.

Thanks to the support of friends and family, teammates and opponents, the UCLA and ESPN community and even complete strangers, the Big Nick Fund – set up for former UCLA offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani after his recent car accident - has hit its target goal of $50,000.

In five days.

What an incredible story of a community coming together for one of the best dudes I know. Everyone understands that the recovery process will not be easy, but to be able to ease some of the financial burden on the family is just fantastic.

Knowing Nick’s passion for life, that inner fire that fuels him, he’s going to respond to this adversity. Proof: watch the video, taken less than a week after the accident.

Great job, everyone.

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Brief Nick Ekbatani update

Hey guys, was just passed along some encouraging news about former UCLA offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani, who was in a car accident last weekend that resulted in a severe leg injury, and ultimately, amputation up to the knee.

“Nick stood up today with the help of a walker and they put him in a wheelchair so he can get used to sitting up and everything. He’s doing really well.”

The Big Nick Fund is charging ahead still, with more than $37,000 raised in just a few days, due in no small part to the support of UCLA community. Kudos.

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The Big Nick Fund

nick lecharles.jpg

The Big Nick Fund is up and running and it’s already on a roll…

Many of you know former UCLA offensive lineman Nick Ekbatani was involved in a car accident last weekend when his motorcycle was hit by a taxi. Ekbatani was rushed to the emergency room with a skull fracture, extensive blood loss and a damaged leg. He is stable and conscious, resting among family and friends, but unfortunately, he has lost part of his leg as a result of the accident.

One of his friends, Kim, has set up a fund to raise money for his recovery, and it’s already 1/3 of the way toward the goal of $50,000. Please consider donating, and please continue to pray. Can’t wait to be karaoke singing with the dude in no time.

i-bb9056fee3b694e8bba0f56f0d973fc6-Nick-thumb-400x400-61228.jpg
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The worst kinds of stories…

Are the ones that we have to write about people we care about.

My friend and former UCLA football player Nick Ekbatani was involved in a car accident on Friday night and is in the ICU at Harbor Medical Center. I just spoke with a nurse who said he was in stable condition, but this is a scary situation.

Since Nick has been working for ESPN Recruiting we’ve become close friends, and we’re talking about hosting a podcast together. His spirit is absolutely incredible. Can’t go into too many details, but please, please pray for him. Please.

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Lacy Westbrook hospitalized with reported aneurysm

The mother of UCLA offensive lineman signee Lacy Westbrook wrote on Facebook that her son suffered a brain aneurysm while jogging at Gahr High School on Tuesday but that he was responsive and able to move. He is being held at UC Irvine Medical Center, she wrote.

Westbrook, the No. 18-rated guard from Compton Dominguez, is set to grayshirt this season.

Attempts to reach the family were unsuccessful, but UCLA head coach Jim Mora has been in contact with the family, saying: “I have talked with the family and they have indicated that Lacy is in good spirits. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the young man and his family as they confront this difficult situation.”

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