UCLA coach Jim Mora agreed to a one-year contract extension through 2017 on Friday after revitalizing the Bruins in his debut season.
Mora led UCLA to nine victories, the Pac-12 South title and a Holiday Bowl berth just one year after replacing Rick Neuheisel at a school that hadn’t won even eight games in a season since 2005.
The former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach adjusted splendidly to the college game, even beating crosstown rival Southern California while climbing as high as No. 15 in the rankings.
”What Jim Mora has accomplished in just one season as our head coach is remarkable,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. ”The wins, the Pac-12 South championship and the bowl berth were accompanied by an equally impressive performance by the team in the classroom and in the community.”
The Bruins (9-5) lost their final three games, including two meetings with Rose Bowl champion Stanford before a 49-26 loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. But the quiet finish didn’t dampen the renewed enthusiasm for football in Westwood, where the athletic department has embarked on plans to improve its football training complex.
Mora said he’s grateful to Guerrero ”for his commitment to me and my staff, and our shared belief that we are on the road to creating something very special.”
”I believe UCLA will win championships,” Mora added. ”The 2012 team established a foundation which will launch us forward. Our staff, our returning players, our administration and the entire Bruin community are pulling together in an effort to win championships.”
Mora agreed to a five-year, $12 million deal at UCLA in December 2011 after nearly two years out of football following his firing by the Seahawks.
He was an unlikely hire for the Bruins, who had mostly chosen head coaches who were former Bruins players or assistants in recent decades. The school also hadn’t hired a head coach with a defensive background in 40 years.
Mora hadn’t coached college football in a quarter-century since a single season as an assistant at Washington, his alma mater. But Mora immediately hired an impressive staff led by offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and then landed a strong recruiting class in less than two months on the trail.
Mora’s success attracted national attention, including rumors linking him to interest everywhere from Tennessee and Auburn to the San Diego Chargers.
Along with an improved training complex, Mora’s upcoming changes to the football program could include raises for his assistant coaches.
”Jim and I will continue to work closely as partners to enhance all aspects of the program moving forward so that we may continue to compete at the highest level,” Guerrero said. ”We are thrilled with Jim’s commitment to our student-athletes and to this university.”