Jim L. Mora, the head of UCLA football, the winningest coach in UCLA history (over a 3 year span! Don’t forget that nugget!) is either a mastermind of capitalizing on the cache of a star player or he’s absolutely nuts. You pick.
Other than cases involving criminal scandals and actual news, there hasn’t been a more polarizing character in college football over the past couple years than Josh Rosen. The Chosen One” came to Westwood as the successor to Brett Hundley and was annointed to take Mora and the Bruins to even greater heights. The jury is still out on Rosen’s football career, and there arguably isn’t anyone in college football with more to prove this year than Rosen, Mora and the Bruins. . .
— azcentral sports (@azcsports) October 23, 2015
. . . but at a time when the focus for a team should be turning towards the actual football field, Mora and Rosen keep launching fodder at the media that keeps news about Rosen solidly off the gridiron. Much of the hullabaloo about Rosen has been self-inflicted; it started off his freshman year with coeds and hot tubs and continued with social commentary about Trump.
Just last night, it was reported that Rosen told reporters he was going to stick to talking football:
It seems like Rosen might finally be understanding that always saying and showing exactly how he feels like he’s narrating a stream of consciousness novel might not be making things easier for himself (as fun for it is for all of us). But college kids need to learn these lessons for themselves and however you feel about Rosen’s comments and actions, there isn’t really any argument that he isn’t a great kid with a bright future that is kind of learning as he goes.
However, what about Mora and UCLA Football? Rosen complained about how schools aren’t doing enough to ensure the success of all NCAA athletes, but maybe he should narrow his focus a little. Is UCLA Football handling him right? Do they have any idea how to do this at all?
There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to Rosen’s availability or ability to address the media; the only consistent thing has been the inconsistent staccato pattern. You rarely see any local stories quoting Rosen in the news and he is never available for local radio interviews (even as Sam Darnold appears on the UCLA radio partner multiple times over that time period).
UCLA makes Rosen available for national stories (to writers for SI or Bleacher Report), and its during these features that he has said the things that make all the headlines. Whether he’s talking about “hanging with his girl homies” or he’s talking about the plight of the student athlete, UCLA has regularly thrust him out there to wax on about life, but they have also severely limited any opportunities to talk about actual football. After the bleacher article story broke, it was almost a week before he addressed the media at practice, when he finally addressed it with the above quote about “just talking about camp.” It must be awkward for a beat writer when the last line of every report has to be: Rosen was not available to the media after practice.
So he’s finally learned a valuable lesson, right? Well what about his coach? Almost immediately after Rosen is quoted, Mora is ignites another story with this bit of news:
Whether he stays or not isn’t the point. Just making that statement instead of giving a noncommittal sound byte automatically makes this the lead topic and question for the rest of the season. Of course Rosen’s status becomes a big story as soon as the season ends, but why give that opinion now when everyone just assumes he will leave?
Maybe we will see some sort of genius level strategy after this all plays out in the 2017 season, but right now it looks like Mora is on tilt and UCLA Football has no idea how to handle so much attention.