3. UCLA: Jim Mora
CAREER COACHING RECORD: 32-34, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks
9-5 with Bruins
YEAR AT UCLA: 2nd
Jim Mora used his rookie season as a college head coach to set the bar fairly high for the rest of his tenure at UCLA.
Mora, an NFL man by trade, delivered the Bruins nine wins and a Pac-12 South Division title in his first year in Westwood — lest we forget a win over cross-town rival Southern California, the first victory over the Trojans in six years.
Reaching that bar again will depend on how much consistency the Bruins can build; something UCLA struggled with at times last season.
Helping that endeavor will be strong recruitment and an already young team. In two years, Mora has landed two recruiting classes among the nation’s top 12.
The development of redshirt sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley will also go a long way toward ensuring Mora’s success. As the young offense — three freshman offensive linemen in 2012 — matures, it’s reasonable to suggest that UCLA can compete for the Pac-12 South every year.
Still, Mora and his staff need to build on their first-year success and recruiting prowess if they’re going to compete for recruits against Southern California, who will be getting their full scholarship allotment back after the 2013 season.
FOURTH DOWN: Playoffs?! Jim L. Mora will need some postseason victories to justify the contract extension through 2017 he received in January. The Mora-led Bruins were trampled 29-26 by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. As head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Mora managed just one win in two postseason tries.