Before arriving at UCLA in 2012, Jim Mora’s college football coaching experience was limited to a graduate position nearly 30 years earlier at Washington. His career-long involvement in the NFL, both as an assistant and head coach, gives the perception that eventually, Mora will end up back behind The Shield.
Thursday’s news that Jim Mora and his family made the largest ever donation from a sitting head coach doesn’t mean he’ll never go back to coaching on Sundays. But with the unspecified, “major personal financial commitment” made to UCLA, Mora is at least investing monetarily in the Bruins for the long haul.
UCLA will name the Wasserman Center's coaches terrace after the Mora's. Seems like an "I'm-not-leaving-for-the-NFL" kind of commitment to me
— Ryan Kartje (@Ryan_Kartje) August 13, 2015
In just three seasons as UCLA’s head coach, Jim Mora has started to scratch the surface of UCLA’s lofty potential. The Bruins enter 2015 with three straight seasons of 9+ wins, a first in UCLA football history.
The Bruins also return 18 starters from a 2014 lineup that won 10 games. That’s the most returning talent of any Power Five team, so expect UCLA’s current streak to continue.
With such success, it’s understandable Mora would be rumored for other jobs — and rumored he’s been.
Internet scuttlebutt suggested Jim Mora’s interest in his alma mater, Washington, after Steve Sarkisian vacated that post for USC. That same offseason, innuendo circulated hot-and-heavy that tied Mora to the Texas Longhorns.
But Mora’s professional experience — coupled with the departure of each of UCLA’s last two defensive coordinator, Lou Spanos and Jeff Ulbrich, back to that level — made the NFL seem like the most logical choice.
Well, most logical if he leaves UCLA. And right now, Jim Mora is showing no sign of uprooting from Los Angeles, where his philanthropy has extended well beyond the Wasserman Football Center project.
Mora and his wife, Shannon, are active in the local Special Olympics. Their Count On Me Foundation works with a variety of children’s group throughout Los Angeles.
Mora discussed his work with the Special Olympics at last month’s Pac-12 media days, specifically the 2015 World Games in L.A.
“My wife serves on the Board of Directors of the Washington State
Special Olympics and the Georgia State Special Olympics We’ve been honorary chairs of Louisiana, Georgia, and Washington State games,” he said. “This year, we were asked to be the honorary chairs for the beach communities, so we hosted Hungary…down in Manhattan Beach and took their athletes to the beach, which was really, really cool to see some.
“The highlight for me was being able to walk in with them all on Saturday night at the Coliseum,” he added. “You’re talking about a country that suffered a devastating tragedy
with the earthquake. It was a tremendous challenge for them to even be able to get to Los Angeles and participate.”
Jim Mora has become a substantial figure within the Los Angeles community, and his record donation Thursday ensures a legacy at UCLA, no matter his next step.