The Jim Mora Jr. Era has come to an end at UCLA and the Bruins wasted little time grabbing another big name in the coaching world to replace him after going 46-30 in 5 years with the program.
Chip Kelly, who most recently coached the San Francisco 49er’s has seemingly been waiting for the college football chopping block to rear its ugly head and open up a prime spot for him to open up shop. Kelly in his 4 seasons as Oregon’s head coach posted a 46-7 record and each year lead the Ducks to a BCS bowl game, one being the national title.
Since leaving Oregon for the NFL, Kelly has had little success and diving back into the college coaching game is just what he needs to get his career back on track. Kelly had many suitors, but only had two schools in mind when making his next career move. It was always down to UCLA and Florida who seemed like the odds on favorite until the release of Mora Jr, even with rumors of a third school being in talks with Kelly.
UCLA could be the perfect match for Kelly given the success he’s had on the west coast. Mora leaves behind a talented, but underachieving roster. With Rosen going pro, the QB position will be an interesting one to watch going into the season, but Kelly’s spread system should help to disguise some of the team’s deficiencies if there isn’t a great QB on the roster. Kelly is just in time to jump into the recruiting game but will still have to get some work done before National Signing Day on February 7th.
I don’t expect the instant success he had at Oregon, but I do think that a couple of recruiting classes in the rich recruiting bed that is the LA area and the ability to recruit nationally thanks to the combined national names of UCLA and Chip Kelly; I don’t think its a stretch to expect UCLA to truly be back on the map within the next two to three years.
The schedule isn’t overly daunting. Playing at Oklahoma will probably prove to be too big a task in week two for a team learning what it’s identity is. While I believe in Kelly’s system to win them games they wouldn’t have won under Mora Jr, I still expect USC and Arizona to be fighting for the top spot in the south and a fourth loss to come against Stanford in the season finale. All this being said, if there is going to be a surprise team to come out of the PAC 12. I’m picking the team coached by Chip Kelly.
Record Prediction: 8-4
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Cameron Wake