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David Pollack: UCLA is sexy, cool again

Jim MoraGood news for my Bruins: UCLA is “cool” again. You know it has to be true because ESPN said so.

During their National Signing Day program, ESPNU started talking about the Bruins because reporter Shelley Smith was stationed in Westwood to report on UCLA. Analysts Mike Bellotti and David Pollack raved about the program and coach Jim Mora.

“UCLA now has the name to go out and the success to back it up,” Bellotti said of UCLA being able to chase national recruits.

“I think they’re sexy again,” said Pollack. “They got the cool factor. Jim Mora’s cool as it gets. He was linked to the Texas job for a reason — he’s one of the best coaches in college football.”

Mora said in an interview with Smith that being able to get quarterback Brett Hundley to return for his redshirt junior season was their biggest recruiting pull of all. Pollack agreed, but he feels Hundley has to improve and grow from being a one read and go QB, which is a legitimate opinion.

It’s weird hearing people describe UCLA as sexy and cool, which is the way USC has been the last 15 years, especially with Pete Carroll there. I guess maybe you’d have to go back to the ’90s to when UCLA was considered cool for football. Whatever the case, this is music to Bruins fans’ ears, and it’s being reflected by the types of recruits the Bruins are now chasing.

Would Jim Mora consider leaving UCLA for Washington job?

Jim Mora UCLANow that Jim Mora’s “dream job” at Washington is open, would he consider leaving UCLA to take it if the Huskies came calling?

Before Mora was fired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2006, he said during an interview with Seattle radio station KJR that he wouldn’t hesitate taking the head coaching position at the University of Washington, if it were available. At the time, Ty Willingham was the Huskies’ head coach.

“Well, I really have a lot of respect for Ty, and I know he’ll do a great job,” Mora said in the interview with KJR. “But if he ever decides to move on, and get in the NFL, or, you know, go back to Notre Dame or whatever, if that job’s open, you’ll find me at the friggin’ head of the line, with my résumé in hand, ready to take that job.”

Mora, a UW alum, later said he was joking, but the damage was done. He recently said that that comment cost him his job with the Falcons. Saying he would ditch the Falcons job even if he were in a playoff run probably didn’t help his image in Atlanta.

“Now, I want to see Ty succeed, and I want to see that program succeed,” Mora told hosts Softy Mahler and Hugh Millen. “But if he decides at some point that he’s ready to move on and they want me, I will be there. I don’t care if we’re in the middle of a playoff run, I’m packing my stuff and coming back to Seattle.”

That’s how Mora felt about the Washington job in 2006. As you can tell, it was his dream job.

Mora was a walk-on player at Washington, and his father was a coach under legendary Huskies coach Don James. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest and has long expressed his affinity for the area. The Washington program has nicer and newer facilities than UCLA — they just completed $280 million worth of renovations to Husky Stadium — and it has a winning tradition. They also don’t have quite as difficult of a rival to compete with as UCLA, so there is a lot of appeal to that job, particularly for Mora.

Mora has done some impressive work at UCLA in his two seasons. He has turned around the program, beaten USC twice, and commanded respect within the conference. He also is flipping the town in terms of recruiting. But he has expressed dissatisfaction with UCLA’s facilities, particularly the practice field on campus that isn’t even 100 yards in length. It wasn’t until September that UCLA announced plans for a $50 million new practice facility. With that project possibly years away from completion, Mora may not want to wait.

With things heating up for him in Westwood, would he want to move to the job that many thought was his dream position? The timing of the job opening is poor for him; why leave when he just got UCLA rolling? Then again, if he wants his ideal position in his hometown, there might not be a better chance to take it.

Also, keep in mind the way Mora was talking after beating USC on Saturday:

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UCLA disrespects USC in Coliseum after win

UCLA has been dominated by USC in the crosstown rivalry for the last decade, so the Bruins were justifiably fired up after beating the Trojans in the Coliseum 35-14 on Saturday. The win marked UCLA’s first win at the Coliseum since 1997; it was the first time the Bruins have won back-to-back games against USC since 1997-1998; and the 21-point win against USC was the program’s largest margin of victory at the Coliseum. They had plenty of reasons to celebrate, but the Bruins disrespected the Trojans in their celebration.

First up, as reporter Beto Duran showed, UCLA players spiked flags into the ground at midfield of their rival’s stadium:

Keep in mind that UCLA made a specific threat to USC last year that if their drum major planted a sword in the logo midfield at the Rose Bowl, they would prevent them from marching at halftime.

Then outside the locker room, Jim Mora yelled “we own this town” while addressing his players:

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UCLA runs first play with 10 players as tribute to Nick Pasquale (Video)

UCLA dedicated the first play of its game against New Mexico State Saturday to Nick Pasquale, a redshirt freshman wide receiver who was killed after being hit by a car two weeks ago.

The Bruins received the opening kick and returned it 70 yards to the New Mexico State 16. Jordon James gained five yards on the first play despite the team playing 10 on 11. He fumbled on his next rush, but that didn’t ruin the gesture.

UCLA beat Nebraska on the road last weekend and dedicated the victory to Pasquale. This was UCLA’s first home game since Pasquale’s death.

In addition to playing with 10 men on the field for their first play, UCLA presented a framed jersey to Pasquale’s parents after the first quarter:

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UCLA honors Nick Pasquale in impressive comeback win over Nebraska

Brett Hundley Nick Pasquale towel

UCLA put together a second half for the ages on Saturday in a 41-21 comeback win over Nebraska, and they did it all to honor late teammate Nick Pasquale.

The Bruins had an early start time in Lincoln and fell behind 21-3 in the second quarter. They scored a touchdown late in the second to make it 21-10 at halftime, and they went on a scoring binge in the third, pouring on touchdowns in four consecutive possessions to go up 38-21. They shut out the Huskers 31-0 in the second half.

UCLA coach Jim Mora, who did an excellent job preparing his team for the second half, said after the game that the team intended to honor Pasquale, a walk-on receiver who died last weekend after being hit by a car.

“Our goal today was to honor Nick,” Mora said after the game. “Our goal today was to come out here and have our players reflect everything that he meant to us and everything that was great about him. To his family sitting at home, we did it for your son. We did it for your son.

“We got one for Nick, baby. We got one for Nick,” Mora said.

UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley was equally emotional after the game.

“We played for him. This is the game. This is the game for him,” Hundley said with a shaky voice.

Hundley also pulled out a towel during the game that said “RIP #36″ on it in honor of Pasquale. In addition to Hundley’s towel, UCLA had a No. 36 patch on their jerseys, and the coaches had one on their polo shirts:

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UCLA unveils new all-black uniforms

UCLA-black-uniforms-1

When we think of the colors associated with UCLA football, light blue and gold come to mind. That thought will be temporarily erased on Nov. 15 when the Bruins take on Washington.

On Tuesday, UCLA unveiled its new black alternate uniforms. They are incredibly different from the vintage look we are used to, but something about them is appealing to me. We’ll have to check in with a UCLA alumnus and ask LB what he thinks of the black and gold helmets, but as someone who never proudly wore Bruins colors I think they are pretty cool looking. Here are a couple more pictures:

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UCLA offers scholarship to 8th-grade QB Lindell Stone

Lindell-StoneUCLA is already actively recruiting for the Class of 2017. That’s right, 2017. On Tuesday, the Bruins offered a scholarship to eighth-grade quarterback Lindell Stone, who recently finished school at Dawson Middle School in Southlake, Texas.

The 6-foot-2, 190-pound signal caller — who is already being described as a “pocket passer” — is heading to high school next year at Southlake Carrol. A number of successful quarterbacks such as Greg McElroy and Chase Daniel attended the same school.

“I’m very grateful right now,” Stone said Wednesday, via ESPNLosAngeles.com. “We’re really not focused on recruiting right now. We’re more focused on getting on the field at high school and helping a team win a championship, but this is big. It’s finally showing how hard I’ve worked.”

There’s something unsettling about hearing player talk about being “focused” and college recruiting when he is two years away from being able to drive a car. In any event, Stone received a great deal of attention during the Elite 11 regional in San Francisco earlier this year where he caught the eye of coaches like Trent Dilfer.

“I think that gave me a little publicity and gave me the opportunity to show my skill set against other high school quarterbacks who are very talented,” Stone said. “It was just a great opportunity to get my name out there.”

Stone said he was excited to receive an official scholarship offer from UCLA but not shocked.

“It’s a very academically prestigious school, which is what I’m looking for in a college,” he said. “It’s also got a great football program. To have one of my top schools offer me so early, it’s an honor. It’s great to see all my hard work paying off in them giving me an opportunity.”

Like it or not, we now live in a generation where Division-1 programs start recruiting players before they even walk down the halls of a high school. We saw it with USC a few years back and two SEC powerhouse schools earlier this year. Here’s hoping Stone can secure a bright future while still enjoying his childhood.

Here are some of Stone’s highlights:

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