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UConn's Jim Mora to ESPN: 'I Should Not Have Been Fired' by UCLA

The Huskies' new coach said he has a chip on his shoulder and pointed to the Bruins' lack of success under Chip Kelly the past four years.

On the eve of his first season opener with a new program, Jim Mora had plenty to say about the end of his time in Westwood.

UCLA football unceremoniously fired Mora on his birthday back in 2017 at the tail end of what turned out to be a 6-7 campaign with the Bruins. Mora now holds the top job at UConn, and ESPN profiled the coach ahead of the Huskies’ Week 0 matchup against Utah State on Saturday.

The interview went far beyond his new job in Storrs, Connecticut, though, with Mora going in-depth on his feelings about UCLA five years later.

"I didn't like the way it ended at UCLA,” Mora told ESPN’s Pete Thamel. “I should not have been fired. And I will tell you this, the last four years bear that out."

Doubling down, the 60-year-old coach expressed more frustration with how things ended with the Bruins, pointing out the program’s lack of overall success since they paid him his $12 million buyout and pushed him out the door.

"I shouldn't have been fired,” Mora said again to Thamel. “You can write that. I should not have been fired. What did they win, (18) games in the four years since I've been fired?”

Mora referenced the slower Chip Kelly years as reasoning for why he should not have been removed by then-athletic director Dan Guerrero. Mora had a superior win-loss percentage to Kelly, with his .605 mark far outpacing the Bruins’ current coach’s .419.

UCLA went to bowl games in five of Mora’s six years in Westwood. The Bruins’ won nine, 10, 10 and eight games across Mora's first four campaigns, while Kelly only managed to lift the team to eight wins for the first time in his fourth year in town.

Mora further detailed what he called “constant tension” throughout his six years at UCLA. His Manhattan Beach home was more than an hour away from Westwood, and he claims he found himself having trouble balancing time between his players, staff and family.

Comparing his old digs to his new ones, Mora said he prefers the practice facilities at UConn over the $65 million Wasserman Football Center that UCLA opened in Mora’s final season.

"I would say this is a better facility, I'd take it over UCLA's," Mora said. "The parking facility is better here and there's no traffic. I'd take it 10 times out of 10 times over UCLA's."

Guerrero put in a good word for Mora at UConn, according to Thamel, and expressed that the coach had a good “ability to connect with players and recruits.”

Mora will have his work cut out for him with the Huskies – a program that is 4-32 since 2018 and has only exceeded three wins in a season once since 2013. UCLA's former leading man will officially kick off his fresh start Saturday afternoon, further putting his time in Westwood behind him.

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