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December 14, 2011
UCLA interim head coach, Mike Johnson is doing a stellar job under trying circumstances. He is doing an outstanding job running practices and getting the Bruins ready for a bowl game even though, he doesn't know if he will be retained. Johnson spoke to the media after today's practice and answered gracefully some tough questions.
Have you talked to Jim (Mora) yesterday?
Johnson: "I talked to him briefly, but we didn't talk about anything whether I was going to stay or whether I am going to go. I know I had some thing to do in the afternoon and I know that he was busy throughout the day trying to get all the recruiting tests and the press conference. He had to meet with a couple of different people, but I am sure that I will meet with him today sometime."
Would you stay here in a reduced role?
Johnson: "I would have to wait and see what happens. I have to look at all of my options and then I will go from there, but like I said, I like UCLA, I like L.A., and if the right opportunity comes up then I am definitely going to look at it."
Where is Jim Mastro?
Johnson: "Mastro has things he has to take of. He is taking care of deals that he has to do on his own, personal issues."
Isn't he under contract here? Is it fair for everyone else for him not to be here?
Johnson: "It is a situation that is not normal. It is not a normal situation. You have guys that have things they have to do take care of themselves. It is a situation where we are coaching a football team and some guys don't have jobs after December 31st. Sometimes you have to do things to take care of those issues also, but he is taking care of personal matters, but he will be with us."
Does Joe Tresey fall into that category as well?
Johnson: "Joe Tresey had some family issues that he had to take care of, so he is taking care of those."
Who has the most to gain as an individual player in this game? Nelson Rosario, for an example will have a chance to boost his stock with a big game...
Johnson: "Ye,s Nelson can definitely boost his stock. Derrick Coleman can boost his stock. I mean those are guys, who have legitimate chances of playing after this and those things help, but I think everybody here has a chance to boost their stock.
"The guys that are going to come back and play for Coach Mora, they have a chance to go out and show what they are and who they are going to be when he comes back. Give him (Mora) an idea what they can do.
'So everybody has a vested interest in this game and that's why I think the guys are practicing hard. You saw the guys today, they didn't have as much intensity and energy as they have had the last three days, but this is a long time to do that type of tempo and in a row.
"We kind of cut back on that a little bit at the end because it started to drag a little bit, but we got our work done and I was pleased with that."
When you hear names like Noel Mazzone and Steve Broussard getting hired, does that put the writing on the wall for you?
Johnson: "All I worry about is what I do day to day. That's how I have always lived my life. I'm very confident in my abilities. I know I am capable of doing a high job if given the opportunity and if someone wants to go in another direction, that's their right. I will find a job somewhere if it comes to that, but at the same time, Jim Mora has a job to do and I can respect that. If I'm part of that then I'm part of it and if not, I can deal with that also."
In that regard have you heard from Akron?
Johnson: "It's the same situation that it was yesterday..."
Same situation that you are talking or you're waiting to hear?
Johnson: "I am just waiting to hear and hearing the same things that you are hearing and I think there is some interest there."
In terms of Brett Hundley, have you been around a kid as young as him with his mental makeup and the kind of loyalty he is showing?
Johnson: "Brett has the right traits to be a good football player. Like you said, he's a talented kid, who is somewhat mature for his age. He has a good work ethic and he's competitive.
"All of those things are good core ingredients to have to be a good football player and he has those and he just has to continue to work to get better to give himself an opportunity to play quarterback here."
Rick Kimbrel is the publisher of BruinBlitz.com. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on twitter at @BruinBlitzcom.