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Jim Mora extends football coaching contract at UCLA

UCLA FOOTBALL

He signs on through the 2019 season after getting promises of improved facilities and pay increases for assistant coaches.

December 03, 2013|By Chris Foster

Football Coach Jim Mora, after being enticed by Washington, has decided to stay at UCLA with a sweeter deal.

Mora received a contract extension from UCLA, plus promises to increase pay for his assistant coaches and a commitment to improve the program's facilities.

Mora spoke with Washington officials Monday after Huskies Coach Steve Sarkisian was hired by USC. UCLA officials and Mora then discussed what would be required for him to remain in Westwood.

"Jim Mora has established himself as one of the preeminent coaches in all of college football," UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. "We are excited about the commitment Jim has made to our student-athletes and this university and feel this extension further demonstrates UCLA's commitment to building a championship-caliber football program."

Mora signed a five-year, $11.235-million contract when UCLA hired him in 2012, and he received a one-year, $2.5-million extension a year ago. This extension will keep him at UCLA through the 2019 season.

"This is an exciting time for UCLA football, and the continued commitment our administration has provided gives us every chance to reach our goals," Mora said in UCLA's statement. "This staff came here with a commitment to win a national championship; that commitment stands."

UCLA has plans to build a $50-million football facility that would include a locker room, weight room and meeting rooms at Spaulding Field, where the team practices.

The deal between school and coach ended two days of worry for UCLA fans, who hadn't been given much time to bask in a 35-14 victory over rival USC on Saturday.

UCLA players were not concerned, according to one of their team captains.

"We have grown a brotherhood here. Not just the players, but with all coaches," quarterback Brett Hundley said Tuesday morning, hours before Mora's agreement to stay had been reached. "We see that and we're not really worried."

Hundley, a redshirt sophomore, said Mora's status would factor into his decision whether to declare for the NFL draft after this season or return to UCLA.

"It would be something to consider," Hundley said.

UCLA hired Mora after the 2011 season to rejuvenate a program that had meandered for more than a decade. The Bruins have not reached the Rose Bowl game since the 1998 season.

Mora has an 18-8 record in two seasons at UCLA, which includes consecutive victories over USC. It is the first time the Bruins have won nine or more games in consecutive seasons since 1997-98.

UCLA won the Pac-12 South Division in 2012 and finished second to Arizona State this season. The Bruins, who are 9-3, are awaiting a bowl invitation.

Mora was in Northern California on a recruiting trip Monday and Tuesday. He talked to Washington officials on the telephone, then spoke with Guerrero, who had feared a Mora-to-Washington domino effect since Lane Kiffin was fired as USC's coach in September.

Guerrero wasn't alone with that thought. "I was like, 'Wait, Sarkisian to USC, Washington job open, uh-oh,'" Hundley said.

Mora was a walk-on defensive back at Washington from 1980 to '83. He spent the 1984 season as a graduate assistant for the Huskies. His father was an assistant coach for the Huskies in the 1970s.

Guerrero began plans to retain Mora in October, hiring an architect and launching a fundraising campaign for the planned football facility.

This was new territory for UCLA officials, who had seen USC go through similar gyrations nearly every off-season. NFL teams tried to lure Pete Carroll at least three times, but USC officials made the necessary counteroffers and the Trojans continued a run of seven consecutive Bowl Championship Series games.

Tennessee, Auburn and the San Diego Chargers contacted Mora's representative last season. But the Washington job was different because of Mora's ties to the university.

UCLA has not had a coach leave for another job since Dick Vermeil was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles after winning the 1976 Rose Bowl. Terry Donahue, who replaced Vermeil, retired after 20 seasons. The coaches who followed, Bob Toledo, Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel, were fired.

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: @cfosterlatimes

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