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Guerrero and Mora must drum up interest in a program with an attendance decline of 25 percent during Neuheisel’s four seasons _ right when the Bruins are trying to sell upgraded seats for higher prices at the renovated Rose Bowl. Relatively flush with cash from the Pac-12’s lucrative new television contract, Guerrero has promised to upgrade the Bruins’ training complex, including 80-yard long Spaulding Field.

Mora emerged as the leader in UCLA’s coaching search late this week after the school considered Boise State’s Chris Petersen, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin and Miami’s Al Golden, who all apparently showed little interest in the Bruins. Guerrero claimed he had the funds to hire an elite coach _ and while Mora has a strong coaching pedigree, he wasn’t known to be a prime target for any other schools.

But Mora has long shown an interest in college coaching, notoriously telling a Seattle radio station he was interested in someday coaching the Huskies _ while he was employed by the Falcons, earning widespread criticism. Mora’s youthful demeanor and enthusiasm even impressed his NFL players, who often compared him to a college coach, but Mora also was known for aggressive practices and discipline, particularly when he ran several successful defenses as Steve Mariucci’s coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers from 1999-2003.

UCLA probably is hoping Los Angeles football fans will notice other parallels between Mora’s selection and the Trojans’ famed hiring of Carroll, who had been out of college coaching for 18 years when USC hired the 49-year-old coach 11 years ago next week. Carroll led USC to seven conference titles and two national championships, albeit leaving before the NCAA leveled the program with heavy sanctions.

Neuheisel struggled to recruit elite talent at several positions _ notably quarterback, where Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut have been inconsistent at best for three consecutive seasons. Neuheisel also made a costly decision to use an unorthodox pistol offense for the past two years, even parting ways with veteran offensive coordinator Norm Chow after the Bruins went 4-8 last season.

“We’re going to attack recruiting with relentless passion,” Mora said. “I’m going to use the credibility I’ve gained in coaching in the NFL for 25 years to get myself into some of those homes and convince these kids that not only can we help them be great football players, but present them an opportunity to get a great education at one of the outstanding academic institutions in America.”