Bruins, Hoping For Oregon-Esque Success, Are Stuck With An Also-Ran Head Coach
With media and fans scratching their heads, the answer to “what’s wrong with UCLA football” is simple. The Bruins hired Chip Kelly.
I’ve always felt Kelly was overrated as a coach in the first place. He received credit for taking Oregon from a 2-9 team every year to a fast-paced success. But that’s wrong.
The program was turned around by Rich Brooks, and Mike Bellotti is the one who put it in another gear. One of the things Bellotti did was bring in Kelly from New Hampshire to run his offense.
When Bellotti retired, Kelly did manage to maintain what his predecessor built. But Kelly has no track record of rebuilding a program, and in fact has a nice history of tearing down a couple in the NFL. Ask any Philadelphia Eagles fan how he or she feels about Kelly. He’s not exactly revered in San Francisco, either.
But, needing a “splash” hire, UCLA Athletics Director Dan Guerrero went for and got Kelly. It took $23 million to do it and fans were excited; “we finally paid for a coach!,” they exclaimed.
But the Bruins are terrible. They are 0-2 as of this writing, having been dominated by Cincinnati and were beaten for the first time in school history by San Diego State. Considering Kelly was 3-9 his first year, this is not exactly building for future success.
Here’s the big indicator of Kelly’s lack of coaching abilities: the team has not only not progressed from his first year but appears to have gone backward. Where is that vaunted offensive innovation? Why is the defense lining up improperly and missing tackles? Why is team play so sloppy?
By comparison, look at Pete Carroll’s second year at UCLA compared to his first, as well as Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Nick Saban at Alabama, Dabo Swinney at Clemson and Kirby Smart at Georgia. Each took a team from being an also-ran to a national title contender. That’s coaching, folks.
Okay, UCLA is largely comprised of freshmen and sophomores but how much talent has Kelly actually recruited? The Bruins were 40th in national rankings this past recruiting year.
Kelly – and his “you guys don’t know what you’re talking about and I do” attitude – said he has a different way of evaluating players. But you need players to win. Look at Alabama and Clemson. Think they would be champions by recruiting 40th-ranked classes? And they coaches that are far better than Kelly.
Bruins fans are going to get a real look at how far behind their team is to elite programs when Oklahoma comes to town in Week 3. Maybe then, Bruins Nation will realize – as I do – that Kelly is not a good coach. A “splash” hire, yes. But someone forgot to put the water in the pool.