UCLA Football: Jim L. Mora Leading the Charge Away from Mediocrity

Jason Fray@https://twitter.com/Jason_FrayCorrespondent IMay 1, 2012

UCLA head coach Jim L. Mora
UCLA head coach Jim L. MoraStephen Dunn/Getty Images

If head coach Jim L. Mora has anything to say about it, the new and improved UCLA Football program will be unrecognizable. 

Let's face it, the UCLA Bruins have been irrelevant over the course of the past decade when it comes to football. A surreal malaise of both mediocrity and lethargy has held the program hostage. Other contributing factors include a lack of discipline, inconsistency, mental toughness and poor coaching.

Suffice it to say, but the program needs a complete attitude change and identity. Successful college football teams can hang their proverbial hats on something—whether it be a staunch defense or an explosive offense. 

It's not a good thing when the Bruins are known for being pedestrian and uninspiring.

Aside from both having charismatic personalities, Mora and former head coach Rick Neuheisel are essentially polar opposites in nature. 

To be fair, Neuheisel endured a rash of injuries on the offensive line and extremely poor quarterback play during his tenure. These problems undoubtedly contributed to his eventual firing.

That still doesn't deflect from the peculiar tendencies under Neuheisel's regime. His teams constantly displayed extreme inconsistency coupled with a Charmin-esque mindset.

It's not as if Neuheisel's teams didn't have talent—recruiting classes under Neuheisel were often ranked among the best in the conference, according to Scout.com.

Despite the lofty hype, that talent was never seemingly developed.

Neuheisel is a very well-liked man, and he most definitely has an infectious personality. However, the former coach’s forte was schmoozing with the media and portraying his likable personality with recruits and media personnel.

His football prowess was also lacking in any form of structure or control. Frankly, he was very reminiscent of a used car salesman.

Thus far, Mora's modus operandi is far different when compared to his predecessor. 

In this  Daily News article, Mora talks about incorporating these principles into the program. "We're looking for three things: accountability, discipline and toughness. That's our focus and aim in everything we do. To create those things."

Those three things exemplify Mora in a nutshell.

This new "culture" has been a success thus far during spring practice. Not only is there a renewed sense of optimism within the program, but the players have been responsive to Mora's plan.

According to Bruins Nation, a "strikes system" has been newly implemented. It not only enforces discipline, but it promotes accountability—the type of accountability needed if the program is to grow into a respectable football entity. 

The overall tempo of practice is also a big point of emphasis for Mora and his staff. Gone are the days of standing around and being unproductive. Under Mora, the players have to run to every drill.

Also, players who are unable to physically perform in practice are required to do exercises on the sidelines during the practice sessions (whether that means riding the exercise bikes or doing core work).

Mora has also assembled a monster staff, which is comprised of multiple top-notch recruiters. The ability to stay competitive in the recruiting game with the likes of USC, Cal and Oregon is imperative (and Mora seemingly understands this notion).

The school has some natural advantages which should help the rebuilding process. Not only is the university a renowned academic institution, but it lies in picturesque West Los Angeles—amidst Bel Air, Brentwood and Beverly Hills. 

The greater Los Angeles area and southern California as a whole are also very fertile recruiting hotbeds. 

These aspects should be utilized by Mora to the fullest in order to attract high profile recruits. While the talent in the program isn't poor by any means, there's still room for improvement—namely on the offensive line. 

Simply put, the potential is there in order for UCLA to drop the "sleeping giant" mantra. 

Time will tell whether Mora is successful with his plans of changing the program around. Nevertheless, he's attacking this challenge with fervor and unbridled confidence.

*UCLA's spring game will be on May 5th. Details can be found here

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