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Jim Mora named UConn football’s new head coach

The former UCLA and Atlanta Falcons coach will be taking over the UConn football program.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff-Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UConn has officially announced the hiring of Jim Mora to be its next head football coach. Mora was most recently the head coach at UCLA, where he had a 46-30 record in six seasons with four bowl appearances, but his last year there was 2017. Since then, Mora has been working as an analyst for ESPN.

Mora will join the coaching staff immediately as an assistant, where he can get acclimated to the team and help with recruiting, before assuming the duties of head coach on November 28. He will be the 32nd head coach in the school’s history.

Since Randy Edsall was relieved of his duties in September, defensive coordinator Lou Spanos has been serving as interim head coach. Spanos was on Mora’s staff at UCLA as was Noel Mazzone, who joined Spanos’ staff at UConn after Edsall’s departure and did make somewhat of a positive impact on the offense. Without any inside knowledge, it seems likely that Spanos and Mazzone stay on Mora’s staff in some capacity.

Mora grew up on the west coast, played at Washington, and aside from one year there as a GA has been mostly an NFL coach. His tenure at UCLA started off well, going 9-5 his first year followed by two 10-win seasons, leading to interest from the University of Texas and his alma mater, but he signed an extension at UCLA. He was fired with one game left in the 2017 season with a 5-6 record after going 4-8 in 2016.

Hearst’s Mike Anthony has Mora’s contract details:

“Mora, who turns 60 next week, has agreed to a five-year contract through the 2026 season that begins with a salary of $1.5 million in 2022, increases by $100,000 annually and includes performance incentives of up to $200,000 a year.”

One of Mora’s biggest tasks will be improving UConn’s roster, holding on to existing talent, and making use of the transfer portal. He said he is keen on the value of bringing in transfers and overall optimistic about taking on a reclamation project like this.

Still, this is an... interesting move for the Huskies. Mora has been out of coaching for over four years and has no ties to the area. He can fix the latter problem through the hires on his coaching staff. But being out of coaching for that long and having some pre-existing signs of old-school mentality do not bode well. It’s completely understandable to see a lukewarm reception from Huskies fans and national college football media.

It would have been nice to see UConn hire someone who was coaching more recently or had a stronger understanding of the region or college football, but this is the choice David Benedict made. He’s obviously staking a large portion of his reputation on this hire, let’s see how it plays out.

“We weren’t going to find anybody who had more experience or bring the level of leadership and diversity in experiences that he’s had as an assistant coach in the NFL, a head coach in the NFL and a head coach at UCLA,” Benedict said. “He brings a profile that we certainly hope will excite the kids on our roster, recruits and kids in the transfer portal.”