Source: Mora declines SEC interviews

Jim Mora’s early success at UCLA is being noticed by other college programs.

Two Southeastern Conference schools — Auburn and Tennessee — solicited Mora for their head-coaching vacancies, has learned. Mora declined interviews with both, the source said, because he believes UCLA is committed to providing the resources needed to help him build a national champion.

In his first season as UCLA’s head coach, Mora helped the Bruins improve from 6-8 in 2011 under predecessor Rick Neuheisel to 9-4. That includes a 38-28 win over crosstown rival Southern California, the first time UCLA has beaten the Trojans in five seasons.

The win helped UCLA earn a berth in last Friday’s Pac-12 Championship Game. After losing to Stanford, the Bruins are headed to the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl to play Baylor on Dec. 27.

Mora, 51, came to UCLA with 25 years of NFL coaching experience, both as a head coach and as an assistant. He led the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in his first season as head coach in 2004. Mora was 26-22 in three seasons with the Falcons and 5-11 with the Seattle Seahawks in 2009 before being fired from both jobs.

Auburn fired Gene Chizik, who had led the 2010 Tigers to the national championship with quarterback Cam Newton, following a 3-9 season. Tennessee dismissed Derek Dooley after a 4-7 campaign marked the Volunteers’ third straight losing season.