Those UCLA fans who wanted Chip Kelly’s departure got their wish Friday, but not in the way they expected.
In a surprising move, Kelly exited his head coaching job at UCLA for a perceived step down, agreeing to become the offensive coordinator for Ohio State.
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The timing leaves UCLA and recruits in a bind. The national letter of intent signing period was Feb. 7, spring practice is approaching, and the coaching carousel has already churned. That leaves UCLA in a poor position heading into its first season in the Big Ten, where it will eventually face their old coach in a game.
Kelly had reported interest in talking with NFL teams about an offensive coordinator position. But taking the Ohio State job is viewed in many quarters as a strange step down.
In a message to UCLA alumni and fans, Bruins athletic director Martin Jarmond said a national search for a replacement had already commenced.
Names in the rumor mill to replace Kelly include former USC coach Pete Carroll, Nebraska defensive coordinator Tony White, former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and former Stanford coach David Shaw, among others.
UCLA opens its 2024 season on Aug. 31 with a road trip to play Hawaii. The home opener is Sept. 14 against Indiana.
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