Is Jim Mora, Jr. the right coach for UCLA?

With the hire of Jim Mora, Jr. as head coach, hopeful UCLA fans are comparing the hire to Pete Carroll.

Like Carroll, Mora was UCLA's fifth or sixth choice. Both Mora and Carroll coached NFL teams for three seasons (Falcons, Patriots) and saw them regress each year. Both Mora and Carroll were fired after coaching a different team for one season (Seahawks, Jets). Both coaches were fairly desperate for a job when hired and were roughly the same age. And both coaches made their marks as defensive coordinators who were particularly innovative with secondary schemes. But that doesn't mean UCLA just hired the next Pete Carroll.

The track record for former NFL head coaches in the college ranks is less than stellar. Pete Carroll is the exception to the rule. Dave Wannstedt never took Pitt to the next level. The same could be said for Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech. Mike Sherman was just fired at Texas A&M. Bill Callahan set the Nebraska program back for years.

There are some coaches who have gone back and forth (Nick Saban, Dennis Erickson, Mike Riley), but other than Carroll and June Jones, I can't think of another ex-NFL head coach with mostly pro experience who was a success at the college level.

Jim Mora, Jr. was hired because he was the biggest name UCLA could get. But sometimes the biggest name isn't always the best name. I thought the Bruins should have considered San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator, a rising young coach who was part of Jim Habraugh's successful staff at Stanford. I would have also considered Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, and Colorado offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. I think UCLA should have looked towards a dynamic assistant coach on the rise rather than a washed up name that alumni had heard of before.

This is not to say that Mora can't do a good job. He is well-respected in coaching circles, and I'd be surprised if he has a worse record than Rick Neuheisel. But recent history suggests that Mora will be more like Chan Gailey or Mike Sherman than like Pete Carroll.


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Previous Native Intelligence story: What the Albert Pujols signing means for the Angels

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