For some reason, UCLA has decided to make Jim Mora its football coach, and the reason might well be that he was the only one who’d take the job. (Boise State’s Chris Petersen turned it down, and apparently so did Kevin Sumlin, who just left Houston to coach Texas A&M.) But enough about process. My issue today is more visceral.
There are two major football-playing colleges in Los Angeles. One is now headed by Little Jimmy Mora. The other is Southern Cal, which is helmed (and I use the term loosely) by Lane Kiffin, whom I’ve previously described as the most hated man in sports. And this leaves me with what we Cold War Kids used to consider the ultimate dilemma: Namely, if the Soviet Union got into it with China, which side would we root against?
Kiffin is a smug little weasel who thinks the football world owes him a living because his daddy was a coach. Kiffin hasn’t been anywhere long enough for anyone to know if he can actually coach. (Though his work this year with the Trojans was — and here I grit my teeth — rather impressive.)
Mora had a good first season with the Falcons, taking them to the NFC title game, but burned enough bridges that the team canned him barely two years later. Then the Seahawks hired him, and they dumped him after only one season to make room for Pete Carroll, whose absence in L.A. made room for Kiffy. (See? It’s all cyclical.)
Falcons fans have no problem identifying their least favorite head coach: He’s Bobby Petrino, the rat lately of Fayetteville. And Petrino, we can all agree, did a terrible thing by leaving the Falcons to go call the Hogs with three games remaining in his only season here. But now I’m going to surprise you.
If asked who their least favorite Falcons head coach was, some folks who still work in Flowery Branch would have to think pretty hard. Because Mora ticked off a lot of people inside the building. (So did Petrino, but from him you expected it.) Mora had a way of big-footing the little people, and those little people tend not to forget. If he thought you could be of service to him, he’d turn on the smarm. If not, he’d just as soon smash your cell phone as look at you.
I could never in good conscience root for Kiffin, but I can’t abide Mora, either. And, as much as I hate to sit on the fence about anything, I don’t think I’ll be perched for long. Kiffin might actually turn out to be a decent coach. (Or, failing that, he’ll recruit so well he’ll look like one.) I’m reasonably certain Mora won’t pan out. I give him two years in Westwood — despite his infamous lust for the Washington Huskies’ job, he hasn’t coached in college since 1984 — and then he’ll be back on TV making me change the channel.
And then I’ll be able to loath just one L.A. coach again. Ah, sweet clarity!
By Mark Bradley