Tag Archive: Terry Donahue

Former College Head Coach Weighs-In on Attention To Detail and The Little Things – #5 Hot Seat Head Coach, Jim Mora, UCLA


Following on our last blog post about “Attention to Detail” and “The Little Things”…

The Importance of Attention To Detail and The Little Things To Coaches Winning Football Games, Coaches Hot Seat Blog, March 2017

…a fairly well-known former head coach in college football rang-up the CHS red phone this week and said about the above post:

“Something you learn as a coach is that when you have everything organized and ready to go for the team the players sense that the head coach and his assistant coaches have their Shit together and that gives the players confidence that the coaches know what the Hell are doing which is a big part of building that positive feedback loop. The assistant coaches see that the head coach has his Shit together which gives them confidence, the players see the head coach and assistant coaches have their Shit together which gives them confidence, and all that confidence pays huge dividends when things start getting tough in close games.”

Amen to that and the above observation goes right to something that a few of us here at Coaches Hot Seat witnessed personally in the US Navy one more than one occasion when our commanding officer was replaced by another commanding officer, and each time that happened the new CO brought with him his own management style to the ship and crew and in short order the entire crew made a determination if the new CO knew what the Hell he was doing or not and either added or lost confidence in the CO and the other officers on the ship. Now in most situations in peacetime a crew losing confidence in the commanding officer of an US Navy ship is no big deal, but in something like Desert Storm which a few of us went through the change of command in a CO was a HUGE deal and luckily for us was a very positive change for the ship and crew!

Any fans of great movies certainly know the movie The Caine Mutiny when the officers of an US Navy ship confront the captain of the ship played by Humphrey Bogart who is clearly losing his mind and thus putting the ship and its crew at risk:

Lesson from the Caine Mutiny for head football coaches:

Get and Keep Your Shit Together!

#5 Hot Seat Head Coach, Jim Mora, UCLA

Many years ago a Coaches Hot Seat member got a great lesson in working with someone that remains with him to this day that is an important thing in writing about the situation that Jim Mora now finds himself in at UCLA.

That Coaches Hot Seat member has told a simple story many times that when he was working in Manhattan for a large bank that he over time got into a bad working relationship with a younger person that worked for him and their relationship got so bad that the younger person (and valuable employee) left the company to work for another bank. Shortly after the younger person had left the bank after six-plus months of turmoil in the workplace an older executive at the bank called the CHS member into his office and told him this:

“Just a piece of advice as you learn how to manage people in the real world. There are always going to be lots of disagreements on all kinds of different things in any office, but what you should keep in your mind when reacting to those disagreements is this…think about how you would be viewed if you happened to see one of the people now working for you 20 years from now on the street. Would that person be happy to see you, would they want to have a drink with you to catch up with old times, would they want to have dinner to talk about what has been going on with their life? If not, then you have turned a common workplace disagreement into something much worse that will have forever broken the relationship between two people and that is something you must avoid at all costs. There is nothing wrong with setting clear goals and holding people accountable in the office, but disagreements in the workplace must be dealt with in clear ways by a manager…by a leader….because if they are not it causes all kinds of discord that makes the office an unenjoyable and unproductive place to work.”

The Coaches Hot Seat member then says that when he held in his mind when considering the people he was managing that he might see one of these people on the street 20 years from now and that he would want that person to have a positive memory of the CHS member his entire management approach changed which he says almost overnight immediately improved the atmosphere and more importantly the productivity of the office.

What does the above story have to do with UCLA head coach Jim Mora you ask?

Jim Mora needs to take the advice of the older gentleman above and manage his coaches, support staff and players at UCLA as people in such a way that 20 years from now on the street they will want to stop, chat, have a drink or maybe have dinner to catch up on old times as opposed to way that Jim Mora is now managing the UCLA coaches, support staff and players which in our opinion has set the Bruins football team up for disaster and failure.

Let’s look at Jim Mora’s win/loss records at UCLA:

2012:  9 – 4
2013:  10 – 3
2014:  10 – 3
2015:  8 – 4
2016:  4 – 8

Overall:  41 – 24

Pac-12:  25 – 20

Now since we are talking about UCLA football which has only a marginal history in college football compared to a powerhouse program like UCLA, the above Jim Mora records are not bad per se, but they are trending in the wrong direction and another losing record for the Bruins in 2017 will put the folks in Westwood in a Helluva interesting spot since Mora would have a…

$10 Million-Plus Buyout at the end of the 2017 season

…which is Totally Damn Absurd since there is not a Chance in Hell that UCLA Dan Guerrero could raise $10 Million-Plus Dollars to buyout Jim Mora even if the Bruins didn’t win a game in 2017!

Now let’s go to UCLA’s 2017 schedule:

Texas A&M
At Memphis
At Stanford
Bye Week
At Arizona
At Washington
At Utah
Arizona State

Damn! There is a chance that if UCLA starts slow in 2017 that they could easily be…

0 – 5 or 1 – 4

…heading to Arizona on October 14 which would put a tremendous amount of heat on Jim Mora and UCLA AD Dan Guerrero, but let’s give the Bruins some benefit of the doubt that they will play decent football this coming season and come up with some predicted records for 2017:

Overall:  6 – 6

Pac 12:  3 – 6

Now if we had to predict a worse case total Armageddon scenario for Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins in 2017 their record COULD easily be overall….

4 – 8

Would Jim Mora lose his job as the head coach of the UCLA Bruins if he posted a second consecutive record of 4 – 8 in 2017?

No UCLA head football coach in the post World War II era has survived to coach a third season after posting two straight losing seasons and more often than not UCLA head coaches posting .500 records for two consecutive seasons…

Save Terry Donahue in 1989 and 1990 when he posted two straight losing seasons, but Donahue had taken UCLA to the Rose Bowl three times and Fiesta Bowl once in recent years

…. have lost their jobs and not given a chance to coach another season which leads us to think that if Jim Mora and his Bruins do have a losing season in 2017….

There is going to be Helluva LARGE money agreement to be worked out on how UCLA is going to pay Jim Mora over time as he is shown the door in Westwood!