Jim Mora seems to have played unemployment to perfection, considering what must have been sparse options. He seemed to take no prisoners in the process.
Mora will join ESPN as a college football analyst. The former UCLA coach needed a break from coaching, largely because there probably wasn’t much or any interest in him as a coach.
Landing with the media was the best thing for him. It was also something he seems to have engineered, starting with comments about his former quarterback, Josh Rosen.
Rosen faced questions and criticisms about his attitude heading in the 2018 NFL Draft, during which the Arizona Cardinals drafted him 10th overall. The perception seemed to be that Rosen was a challenging player to coach — that his attitude could be a problem.
Mora could have cleared that up. Instead, he complicated the matter, probably on purpose.
“He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn’t get bored,” Mora told Sports Illustrated in April. “He’s a millennial. He wants to know why. Millennials, once they know why, they’re good. Josh has a lot of interests in life. If you can hold his concentration level and focus only on football for a few years, he will set the world on fire. He has so much ability, and he’s a really good kid.”
That drew a quick response from Rosen.
And the conversation had new life.
Mora appeared on NFL Network in attempt to clarify his comments, which he explained were misconstrued. Whether by design or by accident, Mora’s transition to joining the media began with his comments about Rosen. They got aggregated, publicized and debated. He inserted himself into the conversation with insight and criticism, which is what most networks need when hiring a coach. With ESPN, Mora can deliver a comment like the one he made about Rosen. That comment can then be the subject of discussion for “Get Up!” or “High Noon” or “First Take.”
If he can keep it up, Mora’s ability to spark conversation with blunt assessment could prove valuable.