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UCLA Coach Jim Mora Jokes About...Murder
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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College football has to be one of the most competitive sports on the planet. Your season is determined by one loss, because if you get more than that, it's off to the Stupid-Business-That-Has-No-Business-Advertising-In-College-Football.com Bowl Game. That said, I get the trash talking. I understand the finger pointing. I can assume the high — almost insane — amount of testosterone. And I completely get the tactics players and coaches use to get under the rival's skin. 

And then, there's what UCLA former head coach Jim L. Mora, Jr. did the other day when discussing the hated University of Southern California. 

According to CBSSports.com
, Mora has created a PR ballyhoo with his latest tactic of brazen collegiate...whatever he calls it. 

Mora appeared on the Roger Lodge radio show to discuss recruiting. Innocent enough, right? One of the big bullet points for any college campus is its atmosphere, specifically safety. To wit, Mora touts UCLA's campus by saying, "At least we don't have murders a block from our campus." In case you don't understand the reference, Mora was tactfully reminded Lodge's listeners about the murder of two Chinese graduate students near USC's campus in April. 

Hey-ooooo! Good call, coach. Whenever you want to rouse up the fan base, break out the "two girls shot dead in their car" joke series. Rimshot anyone? Needless to say, a blithe attempt at rivalry humor has become a PR s***storm for UCLA. Now that the hate mail and phone calls are rolling in, Coach Mora plays stupid and coy. I'm sure that strategy will work. He told the Los Angeles Times: 

I just said our campus is safe. I didn't say anything about anyone else's campus. We don't have anyone getting murdered a block off our campus. If anybody, whether USC or Cal State San Bernardino, is offended by the statement, then that's their insecurity, not mine.

You stay classy, Coach. Obviously, that attempt at crisis communications on the fly didn't stop the outcry from USC or the rest of Southern California. So, Mora — with hat in hand and stupidity guiding his way — goes back to the Times with this:

After learning the details of the shooting downtown earlier this year, I can understand how my comments on the radio yesterday could be interpreted as insensitive to the victims and their families...the interviewer and myself were talking about UCLA football and the tremendous attributes of the UCLA campus and I truly regret and I'm sorry if my words caused any pain. That was not my intention.

MEMO to the cracked PR team of UCLA: You suck out loud. I can count on two hands the problems with that pathetic statement, but let's go for the top three: 

1. If Coach Mora didn't "know the details" about the murder, how did he know that one even took place "a block from the campus"? Either he is slightly stupid or a bold-faced liar. I'll let you determine the options, okay?

2. That's sweet. He "understands how (what he said) could be interpreted as insensitive." His empathy is overwhelming. Also, he has obviously been taking some UCLA psychology classes thanks to his stellar interpretation skills. Insensitive? Seriously?! How about simpleminded and stolid buffoonery? You know, come out and repeat one of those family-friendly expletives offered to the receptionist about your comments. 

3. I still don't understand why crisis pros use the word "if". Yes, your words caused pain. Yes, your words pissed people off. Yes, your comments were half-baked. And yes, you are just a dumb jock who should really consider some mime training. You know, so you can shut up on a daily basis. "...IF my words caused any pain." Child, please! 

Anywho, whether this dunderhead keeps his job is beyond me. However, I'm almost certain Roger Lodge just lost a listener...and possibly a certain guest from UCLA.

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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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