Every once in a while it’s good to stop, reflect and count your blessings in life.
Fans should do that, too. Sometimes you can get too wound-up in your fandom, and belabor every last little detail that isn’t perfect about your favorite team.
That’s when you should step back, get a perspective and be thankful for what you have.
Or what you don’t have.
UCLA fans should be very grateful for their football program. It can safely be said that the program is in a very good state, especially when compared and contrasted with what’s going on just 13 miles to the east in Los Angeles.
It’s become pretty evident that in college football it just ain’t easy to find a good coach. Yes, sometimes you can blame the administration for hiring a dud. But a great deal of the time most athletic department administrations don’t hire a good coach because it’s a very difficult endeavor. First, there just aren’t that many out there, really. You think there are, but there really aren’t. The vast majority of proven college coaches are pretty much tied in to the program where they want to be until the end of their career. There are very few proven coaches who are in a situation that they’d be willing to leave. Maybe a handful at any given moment. Then there is the big factor of whether the coach has any ties or recruiting connections to the area, which is highly critical. And then there are the “fit” issues – whether that coach is the type who would flourish at your particular school in that particular environment. You might not think this is such a big thing – but it’s a huge thing. It might actually be the biggest factor in hiring a coach. Chris Petersen is a very good coach, but he wouldn’t have fit in coaching in Los Angeles, either at UCLA or USC. He knows it, too, and you have to give him a great deal of credit for realizing it. There are also “fit” issues in terms of the coach being the right match for the type of program you run. If you’re a pretty clean type of program you can’t hire a bandit. Conversely, if you’re a bandit program it wouldn’t serve you right to hire a choir boy.
You can try to go out and find that up-and-coming coach. They are out there, but it’s a gamble. You’re betting on them for having just shown flashes of potential. But often times when the up-and-coming hire happens the coach never comes to fruition. There is a trash heap out there of one-time up-and-coming coaches that never were ultimately successful.
There is a trash heap of coaches in general that were hired with some considerable optimism that didn’t succeed.
So, when your school does make the rare great hire you should be effusively appreciative. In the case of UCLA, Bruin fans should be thankful to the UCLA administration that they recognized the worth of Jim Mora and made that hire.
And then, of course, UCLA fans should be very appreciate of Mora himself. If you step back and consider it, Mora was a perfect fit, and one that was highly unlikely. It was unlikely that you’d find a coach who, first, was a good coach; that had enough charisma and charm to handle himself in the L.A. spotlight; who fit into the L.A. lifestyle, and had a family that would, too; that had high enough morals and standards to match UCLA’s standards; and that exemplified the type of person who is affiliated with UCLA.
It was truly a homerun hire.
UCLA, too, is dedicating some considerable resources now to taking its program to another level. Of course, Mora was a primary catalyst in it, but still, give UCLA credit for stepping up. If you’re not from the Bible Belt where football is God or have a billionaire shoe-company benefactor it’s difficult to have the support to consistently be a top-10 college football program. UCLA, though, is building a great football-only complex that will make it very competitive in the Pac-12 and the nation in terms of facilities. It now can be competitive in paying its coaches, and its assistant coaching salary pool is among the few richest in the Pac-12.
We have to be straight, too, with you, and pull no punches. The game Thursday against Stanford is the biggest game of Mora’s career at UCLA. It has the potential to get Mora over the hump and get past one of the speed bumps in taking UCLA to the next level – beating Stanford. It comes at a critical time in the 2015 season, after having lost in disappointing style to Arizona State, when the Bruins were poised to take a leap into the upper echelon of college football’s elite. It comes at a time when UCLA could really take advantage of a big p.r. opportunity with USC pretty much in flames – an opportunity to soak up some of the spotlight vacated by USC in the eyes of national college football pundits and recruits. So, yes, there’s quite a bit that could come of a UCLA win over Stanford Thursday.
But all is not lost if UCLA loses. Remember, take a step back and get a perspective. Even with a loss, UCLA’s program is in great hands and has a promising future. It’s tough to be a winner in college football, and UCLA has the coach and, now, the burgeoning resources, to be one. Be appreciative. Because even if you have the money, endlessly flowing resources and even a good coach there’s no guarantee you’ll win. Texas has unlimited resources and can’t put it together. One of the arguably three-best programs in the nation, Michigan, floundered for too long before Jim Harbaugh rode in to save the day. Penn State is trying to dig its way back from oblivion.
And you could be USC.
So, UCLA fans, be thankful that UCLA and Jim Mora have given you a legitimately high-quality program, despite the odds against it in college football.