Jim Mora didn't take any ads out in the local paper, but he has definitely added some vitriol to the UCLA-USC rivalry.
During a radio show in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Mora said during recruiting he makes a point to emphasize how safe the UCLA campus is: "We don't have murders a block from our campus."
While Mora said his words were not pointed at crosstown rival USC, it was hard not to link them with the murder of two Chinese graduate students near the USC campus in April. That story became international news, but Mora claimed he was not making a reference to that incident and that he had no knowledge of the shooting.
"I just said our campus is safe," Mora said. "I didn't say anything about anyone else's campus. I just said it about our campus. I didn't mention another campus. We don't have anybody getting murdered a block off of our campus.
"If anybody, whether USC or Cal State San Bernardino, is offended by the statement, then that's their insecurity, not mine."
UCLA is currently holding its fall camp at Call State San Bernardino, which is the reason why the school was mentioned.
But later in the day, Mora did soften his tune on his comments and apologized (see video above).
"After learning the details of the shootings downtown earlier this year, I can understand how my comments on the radio yesterday could be interpreted as insensitive to the victims and their families," Mora said. "The interviewer and myself were talking about UCLA football and the tremendous attributes of the UCLA campus and I truly regret and am sorry that my words caused anybody any pain at all. That was not my intention."
I believe Mora didn't mean any disrespect to the victims and families involved in the shooting, but I do believe his comments were meant to be a shot across the bow of USC.
When will these coaches learn? The taunting of USC brings nothing but trouble. Just ask Rick Neuheisel, who spearheaded an ad campaign claiming USC's monopoly was over… And proceeded to lose to the Trojans in every season as the Bruins' coach, including a 50-0 beatdown that ultimately led to his firing.
Perhaps the best course of action is to let your team do the talking on the field. UCLA has lost five consecutive games to Trojans. Perhaps Mora should break that streak before trying to fire up a rivalry that is clearly one-sided.
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