UCLA went outside the box to replace head coach Rick Neuheisel in late 2011. Could the Bruins do it again after their first outside-the-box hire, Jim Mora, failed to build the program into a consistent winner?
Mora was fired on Sunday, one day after UCLA's loss to USC, their third straight to the Trojans. He left with two 10-win seasons, one division title and the program record for most wins in back-to-back seasons (20) as any coach in program history. He also left with a 46-30 overall record, zero seasons with more than six conference wins and a 9-14 mark in his last two seasons.
Here are five outside-the-box candidates to replace Jim Mora at UCLA.
Current Position: Head Coach – Air Force
Troy Calhoun is reaching the "Will he ever leave?" territory.
The 51-year-old is in his 11th season as Air Force head coach, and he's been mentioned as a potential candidate for dozens of Power Five jobs over the last decade. The Falcons are enduring a tough season but Calhoun has built admirable consistency at the service academy with two 10-win seasons and five more with at least eight victories.
He has only two years at a Power Five school on his résumé (offensive coordinator at Wake Forest, 2001-02) and is clearly comfortable in Colorado Springs, so would there even be mutual interest?
Current Position: Head Coach – Cal
After more than a decade as defensive coordinator for five different programs, including USC (2014-15) and Wisconsin (2016), Wilcox finally got his head coaching chance last winter when the now-41-year-old replaced Sonny Dykes at Cal.
Year one in Berkeley has gone OK and he's had mixed results as a coordinator, but he does have a wealth of experience for his age, a level head and willingness to take responsibility for his decisions. The latter would be refreshing after six years of Jim Mora.
Current Position: Head Coach – North Texas
UAB's Bill Clark wrapped up National Coach of the Year long ago but Seth Littrell deserves a hat tip for transforming North Texas from an unknown, one-win program into a Conference USA title contender.
The 39-year-old former Oklahoma running back spent three seasons in the Pac-12 as Arizona running backs coach from 2009-11 and is widely regarded as one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. He may be another strong season away from getting a big-time offer, though his quick rebuild and lower price tag might be appealing now.
Current Position: Head Coach – James Madison
The 46-year-old has slowly risen the ranks and has won everywhere he's been as head coach, including currently James Madison, where he's 25-1 in two seasons. He has zero FBS experience and minimal recruiting ties outside the region but is a perfect fit for a program looking for a steady hand with elite talent evaluation and development skills.
Current Position: Head Coach – Syracuse
Dino Babers' head coaching temporarily exploded after Syracuse shocked Clemson in mid-October. The Orange haven't won a game since and Babers is back to being a give-him-another-year candidate.
Still, the 56-year-old has a lot of attractive attributes and stops that may interest UCLA, where he spent five seasons as an assistant and recruiting coordinator (2004-08).