Jedd Fisch

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UCLA relieves Jim Mora of head coach duties effective immediately

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UCLA has announced it has relieved head coach Jim Mora of his coaching duties effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will take over as the team’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.

“Making a coaching change is never easy, but it’s an especially difficult decision when you know that a coach has given his all to our University,” UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero in a released statement. “Jim helped reestablish our football program, and was instrumental in so many ways in moving the program forward. While his first four seasons at UCLA were very successful, the past two seasons have not met expectations. We thank Jim and his family for his service to our school and his unquestionable commitment to our student-athletes.”

Mora was in his sixth season as the head coach of the Bruins and it was largely a run that had some promise at times but never fully took advantage of a division that included a USC program held back by NCAA sanctions. Mora coached UCLA to two 10-win seasons in 2013 and 2014 and has seen his win totals hit 8, 4 and 5 wins in the three seasons since. What makes the Mora legacy so frustrating is he had talent to work with. Among solid recruiting classes during his time at UCLA, Mora coached two NFL quarterbacks in Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen as well as one of the top defensive players in recent years (Myles Jack) still failed to deliver a Pac-12 championship. Mora was 46-30 as UCLA’s head coach, but the trends were heading in the wrong direction at a time when crosstown rival USC continues to be rising, thus increasing the pressure for UCLA to keep up.

UCLA’s loss on Saturday night to the Trojans dropped UCLA to 5-6 on the season, leaving the Bruins in need of a win this week against Cal in order to become bowl eligible (without hoping for vacancies needing to be filled by 5-win teams). USC will play for the Pac-12 championship a year after going winning the Rose Bowl in the stadium UCLA calls home.

The UCLA job is one that should be expected to draw some interesting names to the rumor mill. Among them could end up being Chip Kelly, who doesn’t feel like a great fit in the SEC and has past success in the Pac-12 while at Oregon. UCLA’s release confirms the school will begin a national search for a new head coach.

Michigan still waiting for Jim Harbaugh’s first verbal commitment in 2015

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Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh to be the new head coach of the Wolverines, officially, on December 30, 2014. He has yet to land a verbal commitment to Michigan in the Class of 2015, with National Signing Day just weeks away.

Harbaugh’s hiring at Michigan did happen in the middle of the recruiting dead period between December 15 and January 14, 2015, but it is somewhat surprising the Wolverines have yet to secure a verbal commitment since Harbaugh was named the head coach. Michigan’s most recent verbal commitment came from in-state athlete Brian Cole, a four-star talent according to Rivals, and that was on July 26, 2014. Cole is one of two early enrollees at Michigan. In all, Michigan currently has six players committed to the Class of 2015, which ranks 101st in the national recruiting rankings according to Rivals. That puts Michigan just behind Wyoming and just ahead of Appalachian State. Michigan State (No. 34), Western Michigan (No. 62) and Central Michigan (No. 89) all have higher ranked recruiting classes as of now in the state of Michigan. Eastern Michigan is ranked 113th.

Much can change in the course of the next few weeks for Michigan, and that is certainly the hope for the coaching staff in Ann Arbor. Jedd Fisch, Michigan’s new passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach, feels strongly the combined NFL experience on Harbaugh’s staff will be able to win some recruiting battles. That is what Michigan is hoping will be the case.

Harbaugh’s hiring was perceived to be a game changer for Michigan and the Big Ten, but first Michigan needs to turn around the recruiting trend of the past 24 months. It may be too late to make a big splash in the Class of 2015, but Michigan could make a big difference in the Class of 2016 with a full year to work on their sales pitches.