Mora and Mazzone Talk Pros

During a teleconference with the media, Noel Mazzone talks about working with Philip Rivers and Tim Tebow, and Jim Mora talks about UCLA's culture of excellence and the great athletes that are found on campus...

Q: Are Tim Tebow's workouts with Coach Mazzone open to the public.

Mora: No.

Q: How's it going working with Tim?

Mazzone: Good.

Q: What kind of things are you working on?

Mazzone: [joking]Seven iron, pitching wedges, drivers.

Mora: Ok, this is just a really great environment for professional athletes to come back and work in. Whether it's Tim Tebow, or Philip Rivers, or Alterraun Verner. Venus or Serena Williams who were out there hitting the tennis ball today. I mean, you've got a great climate, you've got tons of world class athletes running around campus, so people want to be around it. So, Tim, and Philip, and Christian Ponder will be out, and Brock Osweiler. So not only do they come out to this most beautiful campus in the country, with this amazing weather, and they're surrounded by all these world class athletes, but they get the chance to work with one of the best quarterback coaches in the country. And I'm not talking about Noel, I'm talking about his son Taylor [laughs]. You know what Tim Tebow told me? That Taylor Mazzone is one of the best quarterback coaches he's ever been around in his life.

Q: Noel, when did you and Tim start working together?

Mazzone: About three years ago.

Q: How'd it come about?

Mazzone: He was just off the senior bowl and so he called when he was getting ready for his Pro day and the combine. And so I just kind of started a relationship with him and went down and started working with him, and actually got him prepared and ready for his pro day for him. So we kind of hit it off, and he and Taylor hit it off. So it's a relationship not just based on quarterback play, we also talk all during the year. And he just called up and said he was going to be down here in LA. It's exactly like Coach Mora says, he likes being down here. And I just happened to be here now, so he called and asked if we could get together a few times and throw the ball around.

Q: What are some of the things you continue to work with Tim on specifically?

Mazzone: We just work mechanics like every quarterback coach in the country works on.

Q: What does he tell you he wants to get better at?

Mazzone: I think what's pretty cool is he's taken the initiative, and understands some of the things he needs to work on. I'm not the only guy he spends time working with, he just happened to be in town here on some business. Tim likes to work out, so he came over and wanted to throw. He and Taylor are actually pretty close, Taylor spends a lot of time with him. So some of the things he'll work are just to try and improve his mechanics. You guys know the story with him, you guys have watched him. He's a great kid and he works hard. He's just trying to get there.

Q: Are you seeing improvement, the more you work with him?

Mazzone: Well, I don't know about the more I work with him. He's been down here 3 or 4 days, and before that, I think the last time I spent some time with him was 2 years ago. But he's obviously a guy who wants to get better. He wants to become better at his craft, and his craft is being an NFL quarterback. Just like Philip Rivers today; there's nothing I'm going to tell Philip to make him a better quarterback than he is. They just love to compete, they like to play, and they want to get better at what they do.

Q: Are you still working to shorten Tebow's motion?

Mazzone: Like all guys, he just wants to be efficient. You go pull out 32 different films of 32 different NFL quarterbacks, and you're going to see 32 different motions. It's all about the result, and I think that's what Tim's about.

Q: For Noel, what have you been working on with Christian Ponder? And for Jim, how do you turn this into a recruiting tool?

Mora: I don't think I have to say anything. I think it speaks for itself. When Philip Rivers, who's a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback seeks out your offensive coordinator, UCLA's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, I don't really have to say anything. That kind of speaks for itself. Who wouldn't want to be coached by the guy who Philip Rivers wants coaching him? Or Tim Tebow wants coaching him? Or Christian Ponder wants coaching him? Or any of these other guys. I don't have to say anything. You guys are saying it for me by writing these articles

Q: How long will Tebow be staying?

Mazzone: Like I said previously, he came down because he has business meeting in town. He spends the rest of the day doing whatever those guys do, and like most guys in his position, they like to have a place where he can work out, and he picked an awesome place right here, with the sun shining out there and the blue sky where he can come throw the football. So it was just kind of a nice fit for him.

Mora: There's a lot of focus on Tim, obviously, because he's a charismatic guy and kind of a polarizing figure, but I was out there today and there was five other NFL players out there. Three of them asked to work with Coach Demetrice Martin. They asked Coach Martin, you know, "Can you spend some time with us, and work with us on some footwork stuff?" So it's not just Tim, this an amazing place. I mean, I walk out on the track today, and I meet a world record holder, a couple of gold medalists. Like I said, I walked into the tennis center and Venus and Serena Williams are hitting it back and forth, and then I walk out on the practice field, and Tim Tebow and Philip Rivers are flinging it around. You know, it's like, "Where am I? This place is fantastic."

Q: Jim, were you annoyed or flattered that SC went after your receivers coach? Mora: I think it was just an indicator of the quality of coach we've been able to hire here at UCLA, and I think this whole thing with the quarterbacks wanting to come and be around Noel and Taylor is just another indicator of the quality of coach we've been able to hire here. So I guess, not annoyed, certainly not annoyed. And like Lane Kiffin said…Lane was great, he called me before, and said, "Hey, Jim, I'm going to take a shot at Eric Yarber." So he was very respectful. But no, I'm not annoyed at it at all. I'm flattered because I have known these guys a long long time and know what types of coaches they are. I just think it's an indicator. I just think it's a positive indicator for our program.

Q: What's it like for your students to see these people walking around?

Mora: You know what, it's funny you ask that, because I just had a couple of players in here and I kind of asked them, and, I wouldn't say they shrug it off, because it's obviously impressive, but they say, "there's celebrities walking around here all the time." Tom Brady comes down here and works out with Wes Welker, and I don't know if they get numb to it or if they get used to it. I'm probably more star struck by it than they are. I went out and watched Venus and Serena Williams hit the ball today. And that was cool to me. I think they're a little bit more used to it. My first time really living in this mecca of superstars.

Q: Noel, what do you think it is about you that makes these guys seek you out?

Mazzone: Well, like a lot of things in life, I think it's based on relationships. You build relationships with guys, whether they're good players, great players, or NFL guys. I mean I've still got my third string quarterback I coached at Ole Miss ten years ago, and if he was in town, guess what, he'd call me and he'd want to see me. So I think that's what fun about this profession. You can build a relationship with these guys and it's part of the reason why I do this job.

Q: Will you call us when Tom Brady and Wes Welker show up?

Mora: It's just a cool thing when you're around all these great performers. It's just a cool thing for our athletes to be around all these great performers. These people that have attained a certain level of expertise in their profession. It's cool for your players to see that. Whether it's tennis players, track athletes, football players, basketball players. It's good for your athletes to see that. We're very lucky.

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