The coaching carousel took another turn as reports came out per Bruin Report that UCLA would fire their head coach Chip Kelly, joining Jimbo Fisher and Brady Hoke in the lucrative unemployment line for former coaches.
There’s rampant speculation that Kelly is to be relieved of his duties after the showdown against USC. If the Bruins were to win the Battle for the Victory Bell, there would be change after the season. The regular season finale for the Bruins is against another Golden State rival Cal.
What went wrong for Kelly and UCLA?
While the Bruins are currently bowl-eligible, they are just 6-4 with several uninspiring losses on the ledger. UCLA has lost to a severely injured Utah team and has consecutive losses to the Territorial Cup rivals. The inefficient offense this season has doomed Kelly’s tenure in Westwood. He has toggled between three quarterbacks. Freshman Dante Moore has received a majority of the snaps and has looked like a true freshman at times. The senior Ethan Garbers started the season but was replaced. Collin Schlee was a transfer brought in from the FCS ranks.
Predictably, it has been a slog offensively, which has been a bad omen. Interestingly, the Bruins’ offense is a top-40 offense in total yards per game, averaging 430 yards per contest. Recruiting hasn’t been a forte for Kelly in his Bruins career or his prior stops. According to 247 Sports’ rankings, the seven classes that CK has been part of average a ranking of 33rd. That isn’t near good enough to compete with the powers that be in the Pac-12 or the Big Ten next season. He was never a recruiting savant and couldn’t take advantage of crosstown rival USC’s foibles.
Surprisingly, the Bruins are very good defensively this season, which was rarely the case during his tenure.
The Bruins were slow starters as they began the Kelly era, going 10-21 in his first three seasons. They have gone 5-10 against the Pac-12 powers Oregon, Washington, Utah, and USC during his tenure to date. The Bruins were never able to defeat Kelly’s former team in Eugene.
What’s next for Kelly and UCLA?
Kelly, regardless of if or when he gets terminated from the auspices of UCLA, is owed a buyout of $8.5 million if relieved before December 2023. He currently earns a little over $6.1 million in base salary. Perhaps he takes a respite from coaching and goes into the media.
UCLA will complete its regular season against rivals USC and Cal as mentioned previously. They will await their bowl game fate in early December on Selection Sunday. What kind of coach will they go after when UCLA fires the eccentric Chip Kelly?