Two large egos, two large mouths — it was only a matter of time before they butted heads.
USC coach Kiffin took exception to comments that Mora, his cross-town rival at UCLA, made on the radio Wednesday about the safety of the two schools’ campuses.
According to the L.A. Times, KLAA 830-AM host Roger Lodge asked Mora how he sells UCLA to recruits, and the former Falcons coach responded with a thinly veiled shot at USC.
“When you’re talking about UCLA, it’s one of the great schools in the world — not just America, but in the world. It’s a safe, beautiful campus in a great area of town. I mean, we don’t have murders one block off our campus.”
In April, two USC students from China were fatally shot in an apparent robbery attempt near campus.
Mora was defiant when asked about the comments.
“I just said our campus is safe,” Mora told The Times. “I didn’t say anything about anyone else’s campus. I just said it about our campus. I didn’t mention another campus. We don’t have anybody getting murdered a block off of our campus. If anybody, whether USC or Cal State San Bernardino, is offended by the statement, then that’s their insecurity, not mine.”
He later offered an apology after saying he didn’t even know about the April murders.
“After learning the details of the shootings downtown earlier this year, I can understand how my comments on the radio yesterday could be interpreted as insensitive to the victims and their families,” Mora said. “The interviewer and myself were talking about UCLA football and the tremendous attributes of the UCLA campus and I truly regret and I’m sorry if my words caused any pain. That was not my intention.”
Kiffin, however, wasn’t buying Mora’s explanation.
“I don’t really think that’s something to joke about,” he told the Times. “That’s all I got to say about that.”
However, that wasn’t all he had to say about that.
Kiffin told the Times that campus safety at USC only comes up with recruits “when opposing coaches bring it up.”
“And we have stats to show the facts, not opinions,” he said.
“I would like to say that our staff does not negative recruit. There’s so many good things to talk about here, as far as the school and the history of the program. It’s the greatest place in the world, so there’s no need to talk about other places.”
But in the end, Mora said he won’t worry too much about the controversy.
“I don’t spend the day thinking about what USC thinks. Just like they don’t spend the day thinking about what we think.”