• Dylan Denmark

R-E-L-A-X on Chip Kelly


Chip Kelly starts the season 0-1 after losing to Cincinnati 24-14 (Getty Images)

Chip Kelly took over a UCLA program in 2017 that went 6-7 and had to replace their quarterback Josh Rosen who was drafted in the first round in 2018.


In 2018, Kelly’s first season at UCLA, it started the season playing a Cincinnati team that went on to go 11-2, the following week went to the road to Oklahoma to play Kyler Murray and then played a Fresno State team. All three of these teams were ranked to start the season. Also, Wilton Speight, quarterback transfer from Michigan, was the starter going into the season but had a season ending injury in their first game and in came a true freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.


UCLA schedule last season had losses to Washington, Oregon and Stanford but beat Arizona by one, lost to Arizona State by a field goal and beat USC. To put in context on how impressive their win over USC was, UCLA had 57 players on scholarship playing in that game.

But go back to late 2017 when Florida, Tennessee, Nebraska and UCLA were looking for coaches, it looked as if Chip Kelly was going to Florida and Dan Mullen was going to Tennessee. Well, when Kelly decided not to go to Florida and went to UCLA, Florida made the decision to go out and get Dan Mullen.


So when Kelly starts his tenure 3-10 and everyone rushes to social media and says

“Thank God Florida didn’t hire Chip Kelly and we got Dan Mullen instead,” fans really should R-E-L-A-X.


Chip Kelly started his coaching profession at something called New Hampshire, he spent eight years there helping that offense have 400 yards per game. From there, he takes the offensive coordinator job at Oregon and one year later became the head coach in 2009. 


In 2009, Oregon loses at Boise State, more famously known as LaGarrette Blount punching the Boise State player on the chin, and was nothing but success from there. Kelly gained national attention after beating a top five USC team and became the first coach to win the Pac-10 outright in his first season. Oregon finished the season 10-3 and went to the Rose Bowl where they lost to Ohio State.


Going into the 2010 season, Jeremiah Masoli, the starting quarterback for Oregon in 2009 and the expected starter, was suspended for the 2010 season for pleading guilty to second-degree burglary charges. Masoli was later dismissed following an arrest from the team for marijuana possession and several driving infractions. 


So, in 2010, Kelly did not have his starting quarterback and still goes undefeated and takes the team to a national title where they play Auburn and lose on a game winning field 22-19. That Auburn team was led by Cam Newton where he put up on of the greatest statistical seasons college football has ever seen with 30 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns.



Auburn makes game-winning field goal as time expires (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

In 2011, Oregon opened the season in Dallas playing LSU and lost 40-27 but looked like they were going back to the national championship game until it lost to USC 38-35. Oregon still won the PAC-12 and went on to beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl 45-38 finishing the season at 12-2 with a spot at No. 4 in the final poll. 


Oregon finished the 2012 season 12-1 with their only loss to Stanford in overtime 17-14. Stanford went on to win the Pac-12, but Oregon went to another BCS Bowl at the Fiesta beating Kansas State 35-17 and finished No. 2 in the final poll.


Kelly never had a season where Oregon lost more than three games at a program that had no recent success and in a state that does not produce great high school talent. At Oregon, Kelly went 46-7 and lost three games in the Pac-12. Every season, Kelly took Oregon to a BCS Bowl every year when he was the head coach, but the football program was about to get hit by the NCAA.


On April 16, 2013, The Oregonian reported that Oregon offered to put its football program on two years of probation in response to NCAA violations that allegedly took place during Kelly’s tenure. On June 26, 2013, the NCAA gave Oregon three years of probation, loss of scholarships, but no bowl ban. None of these sanctions mattered to Kelly since he was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles in January of 2013. 


The eagles were 4-12 the year before Kelly took over. His quarterbacks were Nick Foles, Michael Vick and Mark Sanchez and finished 10-6 in his first two seasons winning the NFC East in 2013 but missing out on the playoffs in 2014. The Eagles decided to move on from Kelly in 2015 after he finished 6-9 and was fired before the last game of the season.


Not long after, Kelly took the San Francisco 49ers job and was basically fired before he started. He had one season before he and the GM were fired and the 49ers decided to clean house. 


He took a year off in 2017 working for ESPN before taking the UCLA job.


It has not been a good start to UCLA under Chip Kelly, but he is having to rebuild everything. Almost every team UCLA will play this season will have better players. Yet, fans want him canned because he’s 3-10.


If you look at UCLA's record since 2006, it has been a bunch of mediocre outside of two back-to-back 10 win seasons in 2013 and 2014.


If you want to look at what Kelly can do to a program, just look at what he did at Oregon. Kelly turned the program around overnight and the program has not been the same since he left. Mark Helfrich took over Oregon after Chip Kelly left and Helfrich in 2014 took Oregon to the national title. They ended up losing to Ohio State, but in 2016, Oregon went 4-8. See, the value you have on a program or business is not what a person does when they are there, it's what the program or business is like after you leave. Any coach can take over a great culture or team, but how is it after players leave and you have to install your own culture?


Now, some great coaches turn around their program in year two, but does every coach start fast and win a national title in year two? Some but not all. Yes, Saban, Meyer and a few others have won national titles in their second year, but what about guys like Dabo Swinney? 


Dabo took over Clemson in 2009 and finished 9-5 and followed up in year two with a 6-7 record! Now, Clemson was not a national power and expectations for them were not high, but I don’t recall fans wanting him to be fired. The point is, it took Dabo seven years to win his first national title at Clemson. They did not become a national power house and having 11 win seasons until after Clemson lost to West Virginia in the Orange Bowl 70-33 in 2011.


Everyone wants the taste of the turkey to be from the oven, but want the timing of it to be from the microwave. Give Chip Kelly some time.

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