UCLA football coach Jim Mora has noticed something a little different around the Westwood campus this week thanks to a certain high-profile NFL quarterback working out at the Bruins practice facility.
"There’s a little Tebow-mania going on here on the UCLA campus," Mora said. "There’s a few more girls hanging around the football office and the football field that there typically are."
Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is in town working out with UCLA offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Noel Mazzone and Mazzone's son, Taylor, and that has brought a tinge of Tim-sanity to UCLA this week. Tebow and Mazzone are working on mechanics and trying to get Tebow more efficient after he completed only 46.5 percent of his passes last season.
Also working out at UCLA on Thursday was San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder and former Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler are expected in over the next few days.
Mazzone wouldn't go into specifics about what he and Tebow were working on, saying only that they were trying to improve his mechanics.
"He’s obviously a guy that wants to get better, like they all do," Mazzone said. "And wants to kind of become good at his craft and his craft is being an NFL quarterback. Like Philip Rivers. There is nothing I’m going to say that’s going to make Philip Rivers any better than the quarterback he is, but they love to compete, they like to play and they like to get better at what they do."
Mora took over as coach in December, replacing Rick Neuheisel. He hired a staff of respected assistants, including Mazzone, who had been offensive coordinator at Arizona State the past two seasons. He said having players such as Tebow and Rivers seeking out Mazzone's assistance says a lot about the kind of coaches he has on his staff.
"I think it speaks for itself when Philip Rivers, who is a perennial pro bowl quarterback, seeks out UCLA’s offensive coordinator/quarterback coach," Mora said. "Who wouldn’t want to be coached by the guy Philip Rivers wants coaching him. Or Tim Tebow wants coaching him. Or Christian Ponder wants coaching him."
Mora's staff got another vote of confidence earlier this week when USC coach Lane Kiffin called and asked permission to speak with UCLA receivers coach Eric Yarber in regard to the vacant receivers coach spot at USC. Yarber stayed with UCLA.
"I think it’s just an indicator of the quality of coach that we’ve been able to hire at UCLA," Mora said. "I think this whole thing with these quarterbacks wanting to come and be around Noel and Taylor is just another indicator of the quality of coach we’ve been able to hire here."
Mora is just fine with that, even if it means he has to put up with a little Tebow-mania every once in a while.
"It’s just a cool thing when you are around all these great performers that have attained a certain level of expertise in their profession," Mora said. "It’s good for your athletes to see that. We’re very lucky."