Forget satellite camps. Jim Mora is satellite scheduling.
Look at a map showing the states from which the most college football recruits emanate. These are the states in which UCLA is choosing to play its non-conference games for the next decade.
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero announced three new non-conference dates on Wednesday, two of which are home-and-home series against Cincinnati and Georgia. It's no coincidence that Ohio and Georgia are two of the top states when it comes to producing college football talent.
UCLA is one of just three Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) members to have never played a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent, and Mora's advocated marquee games in his collegiate tenure. Certainly the next 10 years of non-conference dates UCLA has lined up speak to a desire to test itself against high-quality competition, but who exactly the Bruins are scheduled to play also speak to a strategic purpose.
Mora's recruiting strategy at UCLA since taking over in the 2012 offseason placed emphasis on establishing Bruins football nationwide. The program's non-conference barnstorming from Texas to Ohio to Georgia in the coming decade is a sort of recruiting manifest destiny, planting blue-and-gold flags throughout the highest priority areas in our nation.
Last season's date with Texas in AT&T Stadium gave the Bruins a physical presence in the Lone Star State — a state Mora and his staff have recruited aggressively.
UCLA is headed back to Texas in 2016 for the first half of a series with Texas A&M, adding to the Bruins' exposure in a state from which current players Jake Brendel, Eldridge Massington, Deon Hollins, Caleb Benenoch, Soso Jamabo and Will Lockett all hail.
Of course, UCLA is located smack-dab in the middle of one of the nation's richest talent pools. And indeed, Southern California has been the most fruitful and greatest focus pipeline for the Bruins.
But every Bruins signing class since 2012 featured high-profile prospects from the country's other talent-rich areas.
In the 2012 class, Mora's first at UCLA, wide receiver Devin Fuller came from Westwood, New Jersey — the Bruins play a home-and-home series against Rutgers in 2020 and '21.
The 2014 signing class included Louisiana linebacker Kenny Young; UCLA travels to LSU and Death Valley in 2024.
UCLA isn't just focusing on the top-tier of talent-producing states, either. This year's tilt against BYU will be repaid next season in Provo, Utah, a homecoming for Bruins 2015 signee and Herriman offensive line product Andre James. His fellow offensive line freshman, Josh Wariboko, returns to his Oklahoma home in 2018 when the Bruins face the Sooners at Gaylord Memorial Stadium.
Some of these dates are so far in the future, there's hardly any guarantee the landscape of college football will look at all similar, say nothing for the UCLA program itself. Games and series can and will be bought out or altered for any number of reasons.
Nevertheless, this bold scheduling strategy and Mora's continued efforts to expand UCLA's reach nationally is a long-term play that could keep the Bruins in the national recruiting spotlight throughout the decade to come, all the way to the first half of the announced series with Georgia.