On the most recent episode of PFN’s Draft Insiders podcast, Tony Pauline noted that Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins could part ways at the end of the college football season. Kelly, who has led the Bruins to an underwhelming 3-6 record this season, might be eyeing the NFL as his next stop. If that is the case, UCLA may not stand in his way this time around.
Pauline had raised some eyebrows during the 3:40 PM update in the Week 13 Game Day Blog when he said, “…The Trojans hope to keep their top 25 ranking while the Bruins need a win in order not to guarantee another losing season in what could be the final year for Chip Kelly in Westwood…”
When co-host Andy Herman brought this topic up on the podcast a few days later, Pauline went into detail and speculated based on what he’s been hearing over the past year. At the 27:20 mark, the conversation around Kelly begins and continues through the 30:37 mark. Here’s what Pauline had to say about Kelly and UCLA.
“This is speculation on my behalf drawing on what I’ve heard over the past year. It may be a situation where they both part ways where he’s not fired, but leaves. The word last year at the NFL Combine was that Kelly tried to get out of his UCLA contract because he wanted to get back into the NFL.”
Pauline noted that this is what a couple of people on the West Coast told him, but he was never able to confirm it. However, as Pauline stated on the podcast, where there is smoke, there is fire.
“I heard one big reason why Kelly ended up returning to UCLA was because the buyout was too big for him. UCLA was going to force him to buy himself out after one year, so he said he’d return.”
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After their 0-3 start to the season, and then after their most recent loss to USC, Pauline wonders if they are headed in the right direction. Taking last season into consideration, Pauline speculated that UCLA probably wants to fire him, but the buyout would be too big.
However, because of Kelly’s rumored desire to get back into the NFL, and because of the possibility of UCLA wanting to fire him, they may decide to mutually part ways without a big payout.
When Herman questioned whether Kelly would return as head coach in the NFL, Pauline said he doesn’t think it would be as one based on his previous stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. Instead, it would likely be an offensive coordinator position.
“He’s still a very good quarterback coach and knows his offense, so if he’s happy being a coordinator, that might be a good fit for him and the team,” Pauline said.
Prior to his time at UCLA, Kelly was the head coach of the Eagles from 2013 – 2015 and then with the 49ers in 2016. Before that, he was the head coach of the Oregon Ducks from 2009 – 2012. There, he led the team to four consecutive bowl appearances, which included a trip to the 2011 BCS National Championship Game.
Now, with so many questions surrounding the team, we could be seeing the end of Kelly at UCLA once the college football season ends.