Dear Coach Mora,
I think I can speak for most of Bruin Nation in welcoming you to UCLA. It's a great place, with some very dynamic and exciting elements that are truly unique to any university in the world. What's really great is that it's a state school nestled in Bel-Air, while that other private school is in South Central. Go figure.
I thought it was appropriate to provide you a little briefing as to what you've just gotten yourself into, though, in accepting the head football coaching job at UCLA.
Let's not even talk about the state of the UCLA Athletic Department. We'll let that go for another day, and you'll probably become aware of the issues soon enough. Have fun with that academic committee. Really quickly, though, here's a great tip: It's a good time to try to get an on-campus stadium built since no one's ever considered it before.
I won't even get into the state of the football program either, the talent you have to work with, etc. You'll learn that also soon enough.
I'm going to limit this to a briefing about what I really know: The UCLA fan base, its state and general receptiveness, and what you can expect.
UCLA fans are, all in all, not a bad group. They're pretty sophisticated, and fairly loyal and forgiving, compared to SEC programs or even other Pac-12 programs. If you win, the fan base will balloon out with all of the Los Angeles bandwagon-jumpers who don't have a NFL team and are looking for a reason not to drive to the Coliseum. Remember, too, this is a basketball school so UCLA fans don't have that high of expectations for their football program. Also, you might not know, UCLA has been on a 13-year run of football mediocrity, so expectations are even lower. I'll tell you right now if you win the Pac-12 Championship anytime within the first four years coaching at UCLA they'll erect a statue of you in front of the Morgan Center right next to the Bruin bear, and you could very well get that salary bumped to over $4 million per year (like what they were going to pay Chris Petersen).
That's the good news.
Because of that 13-year mediocre stretch, however, the patience of the UCLA fan base is running thin. Sorry, Coach Mora, no one might have told you this, but you've inherited the sins not of your father, but of your three predecessors, Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel. The fans' disillusionment is cumulative. With Bruin fans, you have a dispirited group that now has very little patience, and will probably give you a very short honeymoon. Toledo had a pretty extended honeymoon, Karl Dorrell took the equivalent of a trip to Mexico, Rick Neuheisel had a weekend in Santa Barbara and you, Coach Mora, have the equivalent of a couple of hours at the Culver City Motel 6.
Usually, UCLA fans would give a new coach at least until the fall, when you could be judged on how your team performs on the field. But that's not the case with the current state of UCLA fans. Not to offend you, but the fact that you come with marginal coaching credentials also shortens the honeymoon. Petersen would have had at least until the 2012 Pac-12 schedule before the Bruin Cranks were ready to jump off his bandwagon.
Oh, yes, you should know what a Crank and a Blue are straight away. A Crank is a Bruin fan who predominantly sees the negative aspects of the football team. A glass-is-half-empty type of guy. The Blue is, of course, the other side of the equation -- the perpetual sunshine pumper who sees the glass half full. Right now, just to get you up to speed, most Bruin fans are Cranks. The next biggest group is a new faction called Blanks, which are Blues that have been beaten down but still aren't Cranks, though they're teetering on the precipice and about to fall into the Crank chasm.
What all UCLA fans -- the Blues, Blanks and the Cranks -- suffer from is called BBS, or Bruin Battered Syndrome. It's a 13-year condition in which a Bruin fan continues to cheer for UCLA despite continual and perpetual abuse. Symptoms are chronically low self-esteem, a slight sense of delusion, and a tragic sense of futility. It's manifested in various ways, such as with an individual wearing a UCLA sweatshirt to a grocery store and receiving glances of pity and whispers of derision; spending time thinking of pitiful comebacks for holiday parties populated with USC fans; and trying to vainly attempt to explain how good UCLA used to be in football to your skeptical children, who have only seen one successful season in their lifetime.
Bottom line: The State of UCLA fandom is a mess. And you've inherited it.
Is it fair? Of course not. But this is part of the job you decided to take -- and that was accepting fan disillusionment and skepticism that 13 years of mediocrity breeds.
Again, if you had a resume slightly better suited for the job, the honeymoon would clearly have been longer. But again, this is how it is, you are what you are, and UCLA fans are now what they are.
And just to get you Internet savvy: Bruin Report Online has its finger on the pulse of Bruin Nation (there really is no need to go anywhere else on the Internet for information on Bruin sports, just so yo know. In fact, if you want to ever take an accurate temperature of Bruin fans, go to the BRO Premium Football Message Board. There you'll find a great example of rational, logical and fair Bruin fans). BRO has been through BBS every step of the way with its crack addicts...uh, readers. It feels the Bruin pain.
So, if we at BRO can be so presumptuous to speak for Bruin Nation, we're going to lay it out for you, Coach Mora, on what you're going to be facing in terms of fan support now that you accepted the job. It's pretty simple: Given the circumstances you inherited and your credentials, Bruin Nation expects you to produce -- immediately. And that doesn't mean on the field next fall.
That means with the hiring of your staff and the recruitment of the 2012 recruiting class.
Right, you heard that correctly. You have until Signing Day, Wednesday, February 1st.
No pressure there.
Just so you know, too, Bruin fans are now expecting UCLA to shell out the money for you to go out and get a top-flight coaching staff. Your predecessors at least had the excuse that UCLA was stingy in paying assistants when they hired no-name coaches. But now UCLA is talking a big game that it's prepared to fork out bucks for a coaching staff. For UCLA, it's a classic situation of putting its money where its mouth is. And for you, no discount coordinators will be accepted.
So, no pressure there either.
Nothing less than a superior staff, with two experienced, accomplished coordinators, will meet expectations. Coordinators with no coordinator experience aren't going to fly. Their resume needs to be more than just a UFL coordinator gig, and stay away from anyone with a connection to UCLA (It's complicated).
We have to tell you, your coordinators should have some considerable experience on the college level. To accelerate the process of hiring coordinators and deciding what schemes to run, we can help you out, since we've been down this road a few times. The NFL-style West Coast Offense doesn't work in college. It's too tough for 20-year-olds to master (that's why so many programs use the spread; it's what all these kids played in high school. Refer to circa Dorrell 2006, 2007). And a conventional pro-style defensive scheme doesn't match up against the crazy, no-huddle spread college offenses (circa Neuheisel 2011, 2010; circa Dorrell 2005, 2004; circa Toledo 2000, 1999). And here are a few things to know when interviewing coordinators. Stop the interview if the defensive coordinator candidate mentions a 7-yard cushion, and or even once utters the words: "bend-and-don't-break." If you want to win over the UCLA masses, hire a coordinator who is going to blitz and blitz often. Even when it's complete lunacy to blitz, do it anyway. Watch out for any offensive coordinator candidates who were once considered great but are on the downside of the hill. A good indication is if they were fired from their last couple of coordinator jobs and their former employer is still footing their salary because that's how badly they wanted to get rid of them (Uh, well, that rule doesn't apply all the time. Nudge, nudge). College football offenses are all about innovation and someone stuck in 2003 isn't going to work. Ask any coordinator candidates if they are willing to play more talented freshmen over less talented seniors.
You might not know it, since you haven't been in the college game for 27 years, but college football fans are now privy to everything that goes on in recruiting. There are these pesky team sites out there on the Internet that report just about every whim of a typical 17-year old, five-star recruit. So, this isn't your father's college football program, in which coaches could do things with little or no scrutiny in regard to recruiting, and get away with a slack work ethic. A famous college coach once uttered a great line, and the Internet now shines a light on its relevance: "Recruiting is like shaving; If you don't do it every day you look like a bum."
In other words, you have 7 weeks to bring in a top 10 national recruiting class. Heck, your predecessor, Rick Neuheisel, did it in the same situation as you and he ultimately failed at UCLA. Again, no pressure.
So, let's review:
-- UCLA fans are a good lot but have, understandably, lost their patience
-- Your honeymoon is brief, if non-existent
-- You have a chance to get Bruin Nation behind you by bringing in an elite coaching staff and 2012 recruiting class
And that will only buy you time until spring practice.
Best Regards, Good Luck and Go Bruins!