There is going to be a new sheriff in UCLA town, but there aren't too many people around UCLA's football program who know much about newly-hired coach Jim L. Mora.
Mike Johnson, the interim coach, was the quarterbacks coach when Mora was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, but Mora fired Johnson after the two worked together for two years. Johnson said his ties to Mora will have little bearing on their future at UCLA.
"I don’t think any past relationship has any bearings on what we do going forward," Johnson said.
Other than Johnson, Mora is kind of a mystery man to most of the staff and players.
"I know he was coach of the Falcons and Seahawks," quarterback Kevin Prince said. "And I know his dad from the commercial."
Mora's father, Jim E. Mora, is a key part of a current Coors Light ad campaign featuring former NFL coaches.
The younger Mora is expected to arrive on campus Monday and will meet with members of the coaching staff, but as of Saturday he hadn't determined when he would meet with the team or assume his coaching duties.
He hinted he would stay relatively hands off until after UCLA plays Illinois Dec. 31 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
"We want to make sure the players and coaches that worked so hard to win the Pac-12 South and to earn this bowl bid can enjoy that experience," Mora said Saturday. "We want to make sure that the seniors who have spent their careers dedicated to the UCLA football program get the opportunity to go out there free of distraction and play their hearts out one more time for their university."
In the meantime, the players are getting antsy to meet the man who will lead them forward.
"We can't wait to meet him, he's going to be our coach so we need to see what we're getting," cornerback Aaron Hester said. "We’ll be ready for him when he gets here. We’re following coach Johnson’s lead for the moment and when coach Mora gets here, we’ll switch it over."
Tight end Joseph Fauria might be a good source for information. Fauria's uncle Lance Fauria played on the same college team with Mora during the 1983 season at Washington, but Joseph said he had not yet sent out for any intel.
"I’ll do my research and see what I can find out," Fauria said.
Still, having a coach in place at least prevent at least one distraction as the Bruins prepare for their bowl game. Had the search for Rick Neuheisel's replacement dragged on, it would have hovered over UCLA's practice field.
"It’s good to have things settled rather than being in limbo because guys get talking and rumors start," Prince said. "Even if most of us don't know what to expect, it’s good to kind of have it solidified."