How Jim Mora Stole USC's News Cycle

Despite Steve Sarkisian being hired at USC, Jim Mora and the various moves UCLA made this week have dominated the news...

We can't know for certain whether any of the last five days was planned out ahead of time by Jim Mora, or UCLA, or whether the sequence of events was controlled by pure serendipity. What's evident, though, is that UCLA has almost completely stolen the news cycle from USC, despite the Trojans having hired a new football coach, and has done it in really impressive fashion.

There's a political saying that one should never waste a crisis--meaning that, when the emotions and passions of people are at full levels, much more can get done that might previously have been thought to be impossible. In the last five days, we'd have to say that Jim Mora has proven himself a master at taking advantage of unforeseen opportunity.

Steve Sarkisian left Washington for USC on Monday. Almost immediately, Jim Mora's name cropped up as a candidate for Washington. We can't know this for certain, and are admittedly speculating, but wouldn't it make sense to believe that Mora, coming fresh off the USC win that further anointed him as Bruin royalty, and recognizing that the Washington job is thought by many to be his potential dream job, would want to take advantage of this moment? For Mora, there would be two possible beneficial outcomes: either Washington comes to him with such a tremendous offer that it's impossible to turn down (which, as Tracy pointed out, might not exist given his interpersonal relationships with his players) or he is able to leverage UCLA with the embarrassment of losing him to Washington to finally become serious about running an elite football program. If you're Mora, you probably recognize that the Washington job opening up, right on the cusp of when your UCLA program should start to reach elite levels, is an opportunity that needs to be seized, since it likely won't come open again for several years. Whether intentionally or not, Mora was able to leverage UCLA's fear of embarrassment to such a point as to guarantee elite level salaries for his assistant coaches, as well as greater commitment to the football program.

The other outcome, of course, is that speculation about Mora's status at UCLA, and the eventual, almost inevitable announcement that he was staying at UCLA, worked almost completely to steal the moment from USC. If anything, there was arguably more buzz about Mora staying at UCLA than there was about Sarkisian being hired at USC. Tracy and I talked about it on Tuesday, but it was almost as if, with the announcement of his retention, that Mora was the new hire, and had that new hire buzz.

But back to those elite level salaries for assistant coaches. Even before the events of Sarkisian being hired at USC, and possibly even before Steve Broussard's firing was reported (by us) Monday morning, Mora just so happened to be in contact with a potential assistant with heavy USC ties and a relationship with Sarkisian. Now, here's some real speculation: If Mora had some inkling before it happened that Sarkisian would be moving to USC, and Mora knew he would have some leverage with UCLA if the Washington job opened up, wouldn't it make sense to start looking at staff upgrades that might not have been previously possible with the amount of money available?

Kennedy Polamalu is an obvious upgrade to UCLA's staff, but, again, when Sarkisian began working on his staff yesterday, Mora was able to steal a good bit of his thunder by snagging Polamalu.

Finally, last night, USC made a huge, obvious run at UCLA's offensive line coach Adrian Klemm. With the newfound money, though, that Mora was promised by virtue of his new deak at UCLA, Mora was able to retain Klemm, and once again come out on top in the news cycle.

We know Mora is fond of Sun Tzu's Art of War and the quote "Opportunities multiply as they are seized," but, if any of this speculation is true, he could probably teach an honors class on the subject.

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