LOS ANGELES — Yeah, they could have waited until the day after his birthday, but if there is a hatchet nearby UCLA can’t resist swinging it.
Jim Mora got fired as he turned 56 Sunday, the day after his Bruins encapsulated his six unchanging seasons in a five-point loss at USC.
They played spirited, exciting and dumb football, and they will chase bowl eligibility on Saturday with offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch running things, not Mora.
If UCLA does beat Cal and attends the Herdez Salsa Bowl or whatever, Fisch will be the third interim coach to handle those duties for athletic director Dan Guerrero, who hired Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel before Mora.
Guerrero has fired four football coaches. To hire the next one he will be part of a “nationwide search” team. Maybe try another nation?
The next coach inherits glimmering new facilities from Mora, who can buy a lot of candles with the $12 million buyout check. When Mora appeared to be a hiring target for Texas or the NFL, the Bruins kept lining his pockets.
But the next coach won’t have Josh Rosen, who leaves with no New Year’s Day appearances, no Heisman-finalist appearances and an 0-2 record against USC, coached by Clay Helton, the exact type of avuncular fundamentalist that the star-struck Bruins never would hire.
In terms of charisma, Rosen should have been Lonzo Ball. He could have been a perfect representative of UCLA, had UCLA allowed it.
His intelligence and humor and youthful candor were stifled by Mora, who refused to let him attend Pac-12 Media Days, in fear that Rosen might show some personality.
But then Mora was a controller even by coaching standards, and Sunday was like a birthday for some at UCLA who had to tiptoe around Mora’s anger.
Mora could also show perspective and self-awareness, as when he berated himself for losing the Atlanta Falcons’ job because of a radio prank. “I changed the lives of 40 families,” he said, referring to his staff. “I was a (deleted).”
And he made UCLA more aggressive and tougher.
So he’s a complex human being, not unlike 7.4 billion other Earthlings. It’s likely he will coach again.
Mora probably hadn’t even hung up the phone before the Bruin fans were chanting “Chip Kelly,” now with ESPN but formerly Oregon’s coach, and before the Internet was humming with reports that UCLA was meeting with David Dunn, Kelly’s agent.
Guerrero would raise his press conference record to 4-0 with Kelly, who won three Pac-12s in four years…