With plenty of coaches changing jobs across the country, many of those new jobs require a title change, too. Jim Mora did just that when he arrived at UCLA. Upon his arrival, Mora retained offensive line/recruiting coordinator coach Angus McClure but McClure’s new role on the new UCLA staff would come with a twist. He would keep his recruiting coordinator role, but after coaching offensive line and tight ends at Sacramento State, Nebraska, Buffalo, among other places, as well as for five years in Westwood, McClure was asked to move to the defensive line.
“I’ve always thought good coaches are good coaches, and no matter where you put them, they’re going to work hard to learn the techniques and they’re going to make their players successful at that position,” said Mora.
McClure proved Mora correct this fall. The Bruins’ defense improved substantially from 2011 to 2012, jumping from 95th to 54th nationally in rushing defense and leaping Olympic gold medal triple jump levels in sacks (112th in 2011 to 7th in 2012) and tackles for loss (102nd to 15th) from year to year. McClure’s coaching proved to be a major difference in UCLA’s improvement from 6-8 a year ago to 9-4 with the Holiday Bowl still pending.
“I think the first thing he did was connect well with the players and gain their trust. When you’re switching positions from offensive line to defensive line, there might be a little apprehension initially but Angus is a really good football coach and he understands line play from both sides of it,” Mora explained. “I think besides just being a really good technician, he was able to give them a perspective that’s unique given the fact he’s coached offensive line so well.”
Mora’s perspective provides evidence for four things: A) His eye for coaching talent, B) McClure’s coaching ability and C) Evidence for assistant coaches tasked with changing positions and D) Head coaches considering asking assistant coaches to switch positions.