The UCLA Bruins are finding some success on the football field in 2012 with a new head coach, a freshman quarterback and a resurgent running game.
But Jim Mora doesn’t think that his team’s play is quite enough. He also wants the Bruins to be “angry” and to play with a chip on their shoulder. So he gave his team an “us against them” speech at practice, where “them” was apparently represented by the school’s sports information department (SID).
That’s why Mora invited sports information assistant Steve Rourke to practice, where he verbally undressed him in front of the entire Bruins football team. According to reports, Mora berated the assistant, cursing him out and screaming at him before unceremoniously dismissing him from the practice field.
His biggest crime against the football program? Allowing a camera to stand in the wrong spot during a practice.
Mora had a meltdown that day too, kicking all media and SID personnel out of practice, locking the gates to the practice field. Two players who showed up late to practice had to stand outside with the banished members of the press until someone from the team came around to let them in.
This incident is another unfortunate snafu in the short tenure of Mora at UCLA. Earlier this season, he made comments that he would recruit players with a line about not having murders happen just off campus, then denied that he was referring to the USC Trojans, who had that very scenario play out last year.
He’s already alienated the Los Angeles Times with his behavior and the paper has pulled their reporters from covering UCLA or USC practices after both schools have come down with very restrictive media policies. So don’t expect Mora to get any leniency from the L.A. papers on this fiasco.
Never one to shy away from adding fuel to the fire, USC head coach Lane Kiffin told reporters, “I love our SID.” I’m sure that praise was completely spontaneous and had nothing to do with Mora’s foot-in-mouth moment.
Mora reportedly apologized in private to the director of the SID, which does very little to repair the very public shaming he put on the lowly assistant. Mora has painted himself as a bully in his short time with the Bruins, continuing a career where he seems to speak and act before thinking.
While the Bruins are winning games, the school may be able to look the other way on Mora’s antics. But the first year head coach is finding success right now with Rick Neuheisel‘s recruits, a talking point gaining popularity in the L.A. media. If Mora can’t keep the cupboard stocked with talent and continue building a winner in Westwood, expect the coach’s seat to heat up in a hurry.
On the bright side, maybe the Washington Huskies‘ job will have opened up by then. I hear that’s a good gig.