Plenty to write about this week with Washington and UCLA. Myles Jack, for one (we’ll cover that in Thursday’s paper). The six months UCLA coach Jim Mora spent in UW’s training room in 2011 (we asked Mora about that and wrote about it for Wednesday’s paper). The Rose Bowl, and how the Huskies haven’t beaten the Bruins there since 1995.
And, of course, there’s the matter of Mora’s interview with KJR 950 AM back in December of 2006, when he spoke at length about his desire to coach at Washington, should the opportunity ever present itself.
The problem: he was already coaching the Atlanta Falcons. And Tyrone Willingham was already coaching the Huskies.
In that interview, Mora said that if the UW job ever came open, “you’ll find me at the friggin’ head of the line, with my résumé in hand, ready to take that job,” adding that he’d come back to Seattle even if the Falcons were in the middle of a playoff run.
Mora has said several times since that he was simply joking around, and it’s easy to understand that given the fact that one of the interviewees, former UW quarterback Hugh Millen, was his college roommate.
The joke didn’t go over so well in Atlanta. Falcons owner Arthur Blank wasn’t pleased, and Mora attempted a great deal of damage control in the following days. In the end he was fired, partially due to Atlanta’s 7-9 record, and partially because of the comments he made on KJR.
During Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches’ call, Mora reiterated that he was only joking. But it’s a joke he says he’ll always regret.
“If there’s one major regret I have, it was that,” Mora said. “I was joking. I wasn’t in any way, shape or form serious, but when I look back on how I said what I said, it makes perfect sense to me what people read into it, it makes perfect sense to me why it affected Arthur Blank the way it did, and I take complete responsibility for it, but you live and you learn. It affected a lot of people. I got fired, my family had to move, all our assistant coaches had to move. Their kids had to move. I think I counted 30 kids that had to change schools. So that was probably a really stupid thing to say.
“But that doesn’t mean I don’t have great respect for that program. I do. When I say I never considered it nor was I considered, that’s the truth, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect that program and everything they’re doing.”
Mora also said it was “obviously a misjudgment by me, and it ended up contributing to the loss of my job. I never considered that job, nor was ever I considered for that job. I think they’ve got the right man there in Steve Sarkisian.”
There was much speculation when Willingham was fired in 2008 about the Huskies potentially trying to lure Mora away from the Seattle Seahawks.
But it didn’t happen, and, according to Mora, it was never a possibility.
“They have never approached me,” he said.
Christian Caple can be reached at email@example.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple