When Jim Mora was hired as the UCLA football coach this past December, one of his foremost promises was that he was going to change the culture of the Bruins’ program, which has long been seen in the college football community as rather soft.
According to a recent column by Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, Mora is certainly making good on that promise as UCLA’s spring practices, which started on April 3rd and will continue through May 5, when the Spring game will be played at the Rose Bowl, have been marked with an unprecedented intensity and, more tellingly, have been peppered by Mora’s potty mouth.
Plaschke, in his column, wrote:
“Lordy, did (Mora) curse. At one point midway through practice, he…screamed at (the players) for several long and loud profane minutes. He informed them that their effort stunk and invited them to leave the field if their efforts continued to stink, all in words that made the grass blush.”
“And, oh yeah, in his first battle for credibility and change, Mora won.”
After the Bruins’ performances on the gridiron the past few years – their combined record in 2010 and 2011 was 10-16 – it was clear that they had to get tougher, and it’s also clear that Mora is using what I call the Malcolm X approach – By Any Means Necessary – to make this team tougher.
Which is good and needed. However…
If all of this intensity on the practice field doesn’t result in wins when it counts – namely during the fall months – then all of this cursing and toughness and, in Mora’s words, “…a sense of urgency,” will mean nothing.
As for his language, when Plaschke asked Mora about it, the UCLA coach said,
“I felt really bad about some of the things I said today…But I have a passion that creeps out sometimes, and I’m not going to apologize for that.”
John Wooden never cursed, his strongest words being, “Goodness Gracious Sakes Alive!”, and I’m sure that the former Bruin coaching legend wouldn’t have approved at Mora’s approach.
But with times being what they are in that football program, I also reckon that Wooden would have least tried to understand how desperate things are at Spaulding Field.
After all, he also said that a coach has to be himself and not try to copy the philosophy and personality of others.
Personally, I feel that if this new mentality ultimately results in wins, beating USC and going to major BCS bowl games, then I have no problem with it.
Like Malcolm X said, “By Any Means Necessary.”