UCLA announces Tom Bradley as new defensive coordinator

UCLA has announced the hiring of former Penn State assistant Tom Bradley as the Bruins’ new defensive coordinator, officially ending a search the began almost three weeks ago.

“To bring a coach of Tom Bradley’s caliber to UCLA is very exciting,” head coach Jim Mora said in a statement. “His knowledge of the game, extensive experience, level of intensity and attention to detail all make him one of the best defensive teachers in college football.

“Combine that with the fact that he has strong national recruiting ties and is one of the most well respected coaches in the game — it all adds up to Tom being a tremendous addition to our staff.” Continue reading

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How would Tom Bradley fit as UCLA’s defensive coordinator?

After two weeks, UCLA appears to be close to finding a new defensive coordinator.

Former longtime Penn State assistant Tom Bradley, who was named AP Defensive Coordinator of the Year in 2005, is close to filling that role for the Bruins. Once finalized, he will become UCLA’s third defensive coordinator in as many years, following Jeff Ulbrich and Lou Spanos — who left to coach linebackers for the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans, respectively.

Bradley’s status as a leading finalist was first reported by Bruin Report Online last night, and confirmed again by FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman this morning.

The Bruins had actually “sniffed around” Bradley a year ago, according to ESPN, but he opted to spend a season as West Virginia’s associate head coach. He also helped coach defensive linemen.

Here’s a closer look at the veteran college assistant.

Defensive credentials

Bradley’s resume is about as impressive as any UCLA could have hoped for in a candidate. He was one of the key architects in making Penn State into “Linebacker U” — a title that the Bruins started tossing around recently. In 2002, his third season as defensive coordinator, Bradley turned the Nittany Lions into the No. 11 defense in college football. From 2004 to 2009, they never fell out of the top 10. Continue reading

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Q&A: Looking at ‘The Drive’ with producer Michael Tolajian

After two seasons of shooting football, the Pac-12 Networks’ “The Drive” docu-series is trying to focus on basketball for the first time — jumping around the conference to focus on its various teams. Tonight’s episode, which airs at 9 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks, is focused on UCLA and Oregon State.

“The Drive” crew shot the Bruins’ loss to Oregon State on Jan. 22, their win at home over Colorado on Jan. 31, and some of the practices leading up to each one. It also focused on the respective coaches, Steve Alford and Wayne Tinkle, as well as Bruin freshman Kevon Looney and Oregon State’s Gary Payton II.

I caught up with senior coordinator Michael Tolajian to ask him how the experience of shooting the two sports compared, as well as his thoughts on Alford and Jim Mora.

How did you pair teams together for episodes? This is the first episode that isn’t arranged geographically (i.e. Arizona State and Arizona, Colorado and Utah). Was it a factor that UCLA and Oregon State are teams have underachieved and overachieved, respectively?

Michael Tolajian: We weren’t set in stone with doing the local teams. We did it sometimes. A lot of it had to do with what the programming lead-in was going to be. … Ideally, there would be a live UCLA game or live Oregon State game going in. we weren’t able to do that every time, but that’s a good way to get audiences to tune in.

The other aspect was talking to the coaches and talking to the school. A lot of the times they had preferences. There was no set formula. It was kind of a combination.

We kind of set this early. We didn’t really know (who was good). Other than knowing Arizona would be good and maybe Utah. Really, the rest of the Pac-12, you could throw them in a hat. Any given night, you don’t really know. We shot with Cal. They started off well, went in the toilet, and then now they’ve won a few in a row. … It’s really been hard to predict. Like any documentary type programming, you just have to be there and follow along. Sometimes the stories contrast nicely, and sometimes not.

How does it compare to shooting “The Drive” for football the past two seasons? Do you lose a bit of depth in favor of breadth versus depth compared to the football format? Are there any advantages to being able to dabble around the conference through the season?

Tolajian: Unlike football, where it’s kind of episodic, you’re following along each and every week. You’re tied in every week. With basketball, we’re bouncing around the conference. More than it being about the narrative of the team, it’s really taking a step behind the curtain, hearing from some of the players, hearing how the coaches run the teams. … It’s really sights and sounds and process, rather than trying to tell some overarching story. Continue reading

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