Lost Lettermen is counting down and ranking all 124 FBS college football teams from best to worst by comparing each to a well-known song. We will examine one team per day through the summer in the lead up to the 2012 season. Today’s team: The UCLA Bruins.
2011 Record: 6-8 Head Coach: Jim Mora, Jr. Returning Starters: 15 (8 offense, 7 defense) Key Players: RB Jonathan Franklin, DT Brandon Willis, S Tevin McDonald
8/30: @ Rice 9/8: vs. Nebraska 9/15: vs. Houston 9/22: vs. Oregon St. 9/29: @ Colorado 10/6: @ California 10/13: vs. Utah 10/27: @ Arizona St. 11/3: vs. Arizona 11/10: @ Washington St. 11/17: vs. USC 11/24: vs. Stanford
In 2012, there will be a new head coach roaming UCLA’s sidelines as Jim L. Mora replaces Rick Neuheisel after Neuheisel coached the Bruins for four seasons, with seven wins being the peak of his success in Westwood. Mora has brought in new coordinators on both sides of the ball and, with an unknown at quarterback to lead the Bruins in Mora’s first year, there’s no telling which way his team will go. Defensively, Mora brought in former NFL assistant coach Lou Spanos to implement his 3-4 defense with the hope that the Bruins improve on pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run in 2012.
If there’s a more surprising hire out there in the college-football world than the one last December of Mora, we’ve yet to find it (Charlie Weis at Kansas is a close second). Mora replaces Neuheisel following a 6-8 season in which the Bruins lost to Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. What looks like an ill-advised hire by UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero could simply go one of two ways: Guerrero could look like a genius or he might be second-guessing the five years he gave Mora. As a result, we’re reminded of Carly Rae Jepsen’s bubbly track, “Call Me Maybe” - the surprising hire of Mora, an individual who hasn’t coached at the collegiate level, except for one year as a graduate assistant at Washington, and doesn’t really have a proven track record of success. Between NFL head-coaching gigs with Atlanta and Seattle, Mora amassed a mediocre 31-33 mark. Even so, Mora still answered Guerrero’s fleeting call to potentially right the ship in SoCal. Come Thanksgiving, though, Guerrero might be wishing he never made the call in the first place.