LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: Jim Mora takes questions from reporters at a press conference introducing him as head UCLA football coach at the J.D. Morgan Center at UCLA on December 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Let's catch up with the main headlines from earlier this week. Namely, Jim Mora saying one word too many, again.
Mora said on Roger Lodge Show "We don't have murders one block from our campus."USC had two students killed near campus last spring.— Chris Dufresne (@DufresneLATimes) August 9, 2012
Okay, first, let's give Mora the benefit of the doubt and presume he knows nothing about the terrible murders that occurred a few months ago, even though he's been UCLA head coach since January. What school could he possibly have been talking about? There aren't that many schools in the Pac-12 with a reputed bad reputation for off-campus shenanigans. There's only one rival that fits that profile. He must've known that saying something like this was only going to invite controversy.
So Mora apologized as best he could.
This is pretty contrite, although it's still peculiar to believe that Mora didn't know ANYTHING about these shootings. He's been here seven months, right? He couldn't have spent that entire time out on the trail.
And even if he wasn't, what exactly did he think people would start focusing in on when he referenced murders? If he'd just said he thought UCLA was a safe school and a great place to send your kids to college, I doubt there would've been much flustering. Bringing out the word "murder" is a PR gaffe of the highest order, because immediately we're going to start searching for colleges that have a bit of a reputation for roughness, and hey look at who your rival is!
The problem with Mora's quotes is that they immediately give USC football to circle something about as a diss to their program, just like when Rick Neuheisel talked about monopolies and immediately provided his Bruins the "little brother in LA" stigma, whether they liked it or not. Now Mora is going to have USC fans making this joke the rest of this fall leading into the Victory Bell matchup.
Finally, the fact is that the USC campus area and the regions surrounding the campus are probably just as safe (if not safer) than UCLA. The reputation of the region has probably ensured tighter security lines and patrol cars monitoring the campus region, and the result is a much better look (ignoring liquor and drug offenses because those happen everywhere and are generally self-perpetuated offenses by students).
- USC violent crimes (robbery, rape, homicide, assault): 49 in 2008, 56 in 2009, 38 in 2010
- USC property crimes (arson, burglary, motor vehicle theft): 131 in 2008, 78 in 2009, 100 in 2010
- UCLA violent crimes (same categories): 67 in 2008, 50 in 2009, 48 in 2010
- UCLA property crimes: 201 in 2008, 187 in 2009, 185 in 2010
There are plenty of other factors like better security, more enclosed areas near the USC campus, better patrols, and what not, but it seems like you'd feel pretty safe attending either of the schools in the Pac-12.
Additionally (and thankfully), there have been no murders in each area during those years, so we can only hope they remain isolated incidents down the line.