Jim Mora To Chargers Rumored As San Diego Contacts UCLA Coach, Tom Gamble A Possible GM Candidate

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Jan 09, 2013 10:17 AM EST
UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora
UCLA Bruins head coach Jim Mora reacts prior to the 2012 PAC-12 Championship NCAA college football game against the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto, California November 30."

The San Diego Chargers are one of the teams in the NFL searching for a head coaching candidate and it seems they have found someone to their liking.

According to sources, the San diego Chargers have contacted UCLA football Coach Jim Mora about their head-coaching vacancy through his representatives, says the Los Angeles Times. More led the Bruins to a 9-5 record last season and an appearance in the Pac-12 championship game.

According to the newspaper, Mora did not respond to phone calls or text messages. Mora is the son of former NFL head coach Jim Mora, who led the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2001. The younger Mora also has some NFL coaching experience, leading the Falcons from 2004 to 2006 and Seattle Seahawks in 2009.

CBS Sports also reported that the Chargers had interest in Mora, but had yet to interview any head coaching candidates. Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is also a possibility according to NFL.com.

Mora signed a five-year contract and was named the successor to Mike Holmgren in 2009, but he went just 5-11 and was fired in January of 2010. He then worked as an analyst for the NFL Network and a broadcaster for Fox Sports before replacing Rick Neuheisel as the UCLA head coach.

On Tuesday, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero sent out an email to boosters reassuring them about Mora and the Bruins football program.

"Rest assured that I, along with Chancellor [Gene] Block and the university, share that dedication to Jim and the team, and together we are committed to, step-by-step, reaching new heights in UCLA football," the email said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Mora has a five-year, $11.235-million contract at UCLA and would have to pay $3 million if he terminates his contract before Jan. 16, according to the LA Times. Mora has a 32-34 career record in the NFL and previously worked as an assistant with the Chargers.

The Chargers are looking for a new coach and general manager after firing Norv Turner and A.J. Smith following the 2012 season. During his time with the Chargers, Turner was 55-40 in seven seasons as head coach, but missed the playoffs for the third straight season after going 7-9 in 2012.

Smith added many talented players to the Chargers over the years, including quarterback Philip Rivers, Nate Kaeding, Shawne Merriman and Antonio Gates, but the roster never turned into a Super Bowl contender. Although the team had its first losing season since 2003, the team hasn't made the playoffs for three straight seasons.

The Chargers likely will be looking for an offensive coach to work with players like quarterback Philip Rivers and tight end Antonio Gates. The team was disappointing on offense this year, ranking 24th in the league in passing and 27th in rushing. The team scored just 21 points per game, which ranked 20th in the NFL.

San Diego was known as an offensive powerhouse in past years but has regressed over the past couple seasons. Mora is known as an offensive minded coach and helped UCLA average 34 points per game, ranked 31st in the nation. The Bruins gained nearly 500 total yards per game and got a ton of production out of their running backs.

The Chargers dealt with injuries to running back Ryan Mathews and wideout Malcom Floyd, but the team has a lot of talent and could bounce back next season with the right coach. The team opened the year with a two game winning streak, but fell in Week 3 to the Falcons 27-3. The early game against Atlanta was a sign of the offensive struggles to come.

The team defeated the Chiefs the following week, but then lost three in a row, including a 7-6 road loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers defeated Kansas City once again, but then lost the next four games in a row, including a 20-13 defeat at home against the Bengals. The Chargers finished the season with two straight wins but were wildly inconsistent during 2012, scoring less than 20 points five times.

According to ESPN, the team is also looking at Tom Gamble to possibly come in as general manager after the departure of Smith. Gamble was rumored to be the next general manager of the New York Jets, but that talk has cooled since the team had a press conference on Tuesday discussing their 2012 season and offseason plans.

Gamble is the director of player personnel for the San Francisco 49ers and is considered to be one of the best GM candidates in the NFL. He already interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but declined a second interview with the team.

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