ON DEC. 31, 2011, I spoke to Jim Mora at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and then watched UCLA lose to Illinois 20-14. The Bruins looked pitiful offensively, gaining 219 total yards, 18 on the ground. Mora was only a spectator, having been hired just three weeks earlier to resurrect a program nearing rock bottom.
That day at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the former coach of the Falcons and Seahawks made his priorities clear: Turn the Bruins into a tougher team, mentally and physically, and find an offensive coordinator to build an up-tempo system that can compete in the high-scoring Pac-12. And while he didn't specifically say "beat SC," I've been around the conference long enough to know that it was understood.