The Bruins moved swiftly to fend off any potential advances from Washington, where Mora was a walk-on defensive back and a graduate assistant more than 30 years ago. The Huskies have a coaching vacancy after Steve Sarkisian left Monday for USC.
“This is an exciting time for UCLA football, and the continued commitment our administration has provided gives us every chance to reach our goals,” Mora said in a statement issued by the university. “This staff came here with a commitment to win a national championship. That commitment stands.”
Mora has been an immediate hit in Westwood in his first significant college football job after 25 years in the NFL. UCLA is 18-8 in his two seasons, returning to national prominence heading into the Bruins’ second straight trip to a bowl game.
No. 17 UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) routed rival Southern California 35-14 at the Coliseum on Saturday for Mora’s second straight win over the Trojans. The Bruins won the Pac-12 South last season and finished second this year, one game behind Arizona State.
“Jim Mora has established himself as one of the pre-eminent coaches in all of college football,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. “We are excited about the commitment Jim has made to our student-athletes and this university, and feel this extension further demonstrates UCLA’s commitment to building a championship-caliber football program.”
Mora seemed to be a tantalizing candidate for Washington, which has been rebuilt into a perennial bowl team by Sarkisian.
Mora played at Washington under famed coach Don James and once described the Huskies’ top position as his dream job. He and his wife, a former Huskies cheerleader, stayed in the Seattle area in 2010 after the NFL’s Seahawks fired him after one season.
But Mora’s family and charitable foundation are becoming increasingly entrenched in Los Angeles. The Moras’ son, Cole, is a soccer player at Claremont McKenna, a short drive east of downtown.
The school didn’t announce terms of Mora’s contract extension, which must be approved by the University of California Regents. Mora got a five-year contract worth more than $11 million when he arrived at UCLA, and he received a one-year extension worth $2.5 million last year.
UCLA is planning a $50 million football training complex for its Westwood campus to bring the Bruins’ facilities up to the lofty standard of most Pac-12 programs. Mora also has spoken of wanting more money to pay assistant coaches to live on UCLA’s pricey Westside.
Mora should have a powerful team returning next season after giving extensive playing time to young players this season. UCLA also might get another year from quarterback Brett Hundley, who said Mora’s future would impact his decision on entering the NFL draft.