The Pac-12 football coaches are continuing to keep a tight lock on their programs. Not to outdo Lane Kiffin and his now infamous 27-second press conference, UCLA head coach Jim Mora tossed the media from Wednesday morning’s practice.
Gone are the days of the exuberant Pete Carroll and the friendly Rick Neuheisel. A new guard is fiercely guarding football in Los Angeles.
It was a camera crew on the field before the start of practice that caused the first-year head coach to throw the media out of the vicinity, forcing them to wait outside of the confines of Spaulding Field near the locker rooms for the duration of the 90-minute session. Mora expressed concern over the security that day as well as a misunderstanding with the media relations staff, who was also told to leave practice.
When Mora did address the media outside of the locker rooms, the coach was content to not talk about the incident, instead talking about early morning practices and the start of the fall quarter.
“The energy has been really good at practice,” Mora said. “They start classes tomorrow so I think that will change the dynamics of everything that we’re doing a little so we’ll have to adjust to that.”
Saturday’s upcoming game against Colorado didn’t come up. While earlier in the week, the coach stressed the importance of not looking at a 1-3 Buffs squad as a win before even taking the field. But today, Mora was all about academics.
“We’ve got to preach to these kids that they’ve got to balance it all,” Mora said. “They’ve got to budget their time right because they’ve got to manage classes, they’ve got to manage studying, they’ve got to manage football, they’ve got to manage treatment, film and all that stuff.”
Mora, whose background is primarily in the NFL, admitted that the balance will be a challenge for him as well.
“Our academic support staff is unbelievable, they do a great job,” Mora said. “I think that they’ve done it and I haven’t. Maybe I’m a little more nervous about it than I should be.”
But while his focus may be on school right now, it’s hard to ignore the mounting tensions between the media and the Pac-12 football coaches. When the questions turned back to the issues surrounding the recent media skirmishes, Mora stated his case firmly.
“Our practices are open,” Mora said. “Our practice will be open tomorrow, our practice today was closed because we didn’t have proper security. I’m not going to jeopardize what we’re doing as a football team because of the incompetence of some people.”