It is college football Saturday and while all the big games are taking place, the big news is also happening off the field for the UCLA football team. Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly was named the next head coach at UCLA today, as he signed a five-year contract worth $23.3 million with a $9 million reciprocal buyout.
According to ESPN, Kelly was also considering the vacant Florida job. However, he agreed to be the new head coach of the UCLA Bruins and Dan Guerrero, UCLA director of athletics, is excited about that decision.
“I am thrilled to welcome Chip Kelly to Westwood. His success speaks for itself, but more than that, I firmly believe that his passion for the game and his innovative approach to coaching student-athletes make him the perfect fit for our program. ‘Champions Made Here’ is more than just a mantra at UCLA, and I’m confident that Chip will lead UCLA Football back to competing for championships. I’d like to thank Josh Rebholz, Casey Wasserman and Troy Aikman for their input during this process, as their candor, experience and support were invaluable.”
On Monday afternoon, Kelly will be formally introduced as the Bruins’ head coach on the UCLA campus. In a statement from Kelly, he had nothing but positive words to say about his new employer.
“It is an absolute honor to join the Bruin Family, and I am grateful to Chancellor [Gene] Block and to Dan Guerrero for this incredible opportunity. UCLA is a world-class institution with a distinguished history in athletics, and we will do our part to uphold its tradition of excellence.”
On November 19, UCLA fired their former head coach, Jim Mora. This was a day after his third straight loss to USC. Mora was the head coach of the Bruins for six seasons. At that time, offensive coordinator Jeff Fisch was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Chip Kelly is no stranger to the Pac 12 conference. The last time Kelly coached collegiately was at Oregon, where he went 46-7 with the Ducks from 2009 to 2012. Kelly was known for his offense while at Oregon, as his teams averaged 44.7 points per game during that span. Oregon also made some big bowl games during Kelly’s tenure, as they made the Rose Bowl, BCS title game, Rose Bowl, and Fiesta Bowl in his four seasons as head coach.
At that time, Kelly left Oregon to become a head coach in the NFL. However, shortly after Chip left, NCAA sanctions were handed down. Kelly was hit with a “failure to monitor” charge in regards to the Will Lyles case. This came after Kelly was accused of paying $25,000 to Lyles in exchange for him guiding players to the Ducks. The NCAA ruled that Kelly was not aware of Lyles’ actions, but Kelly was responsible for ensuring that the Ducks’ program was in compliance. Chip was handed an 18-month show-cause penalty, but that expired in late 2014.
Chip Kelly had a lot of success in college football, but his two stints as head coach in the NFL were not as successful. ESPN reported that he was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013. In his first two seasons, Kelly went 10-6. In his third season, Kelly went 6-9 and was abruptly fired. A few weeks later, the San Francisco 49ers hired Chip, but it was only for one year. Kelly went 2-14 in the one season and the 49ers relieved him of his duties. ESPN reported that the 49ers currently owe Kelly $15 million, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. Kelly’s salary at UCLA will offset the amount owed by the 49ers and reduce what they owe.
Kelly has been serving as an analyst for ESPN. He now takes over as head coach at UCLA, who has not won a conference title since 1998. They have not won the Rose Bowl since the 1985 season. However, ESPN reported that UCLA currently has the nation’s No. 14-ranked recruiting class for 2018.
[Featured Image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]