After brief coaching stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers, Chip Kelly, former coach of the Oregon Ducks, returns to the college football landscape as head coach of the UCLA Bruins with a five-year, $23.3-million contract.
Kelly will replace Jim Mora, who led the Bruins through six seasons and was abruptly fired not long after the team lost to USC for a third straight year in the crosstown rivalry.
“It is an absolute honor to join the Bruin family, and I am grateful to Chancellor [Gene] Block and to [athletics director] Dan Guerrero for this incredible opportunity,” Kelly said in a statement issued by the college. “UCLA is a world-class institution with a distinguished history in athletics, and we will do our part to uphold its tradition of excellence.”
Kelly was most recently the head of the 49ers in 2016. Prior to that, he coached the Eagles for two years.
Most importantly to UCLA, however, is Kelly’s college coaching record. Before the NFL Kelly was head coach of the Oregon Ducks from 2009 to 2012, leading the program to two Rose Bowl Games, one Fiesta Bowl win and one BCS Championship game in four years.
The Ducks lost the National Championship to the Auburn Tigers 22-19 in 2011.
During his six years in charge, Mora posted a record of 46-30. The Bruins under his leadership won the Alamo Bowl in 2013 and 2014. Mora brought the school back to national prominence with help from quarterbacks Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen.
Mora also led the Bruins to a pair of school record-tying 10-win seasons, winning the PAC-12 South in 2013.
UCLA capped off this season with a 30-27 victory over the Cal Berkeley Golden Bears on Nov 24, thanks largely to a last-second field goal by J.J. Molson. Dubbed the Bear Bowl, the team was helmed by Offensive Coordinator Jedd Fisch.
The Bruins finished the year with a 6-6 record — all home game wins. Even with the losses, the team qualifies to play in a bowl game.
“Making a coaching change is never easy, but it’s an especially difficult decision when you know that a coach has given his all to our university,” Guerrero said in a statement. “Jim helped re-establish our football program and was instrumental in so many ways in moving the program forward. While his first four seasons were very successful, the past two seasons have not met expectations. We thank Jim and his family for his service to our school and his unquestionable commitment to our student athletes.”