Kelly returns to college coaching with UCLA

In this Jan. 1, 2017, file photo, San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly speaks at a news conference after the team's game against the Seattle Seahawks. A person familiar with the situation says Florida met with Kelly about becoming the team’s next football coach. Athletic director Scott Stricklin and five key staffers met with Kelly in New Hampshire on Sunday. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

[Updated 11:50 a.m., 11-25] UCLA said this morning it has hired Chip Kelly as its football coach, bringing the former Oregon coach back to the Pac-12 after he tried his hand in the NFL.

Kelly went 46-7 in four seasons (2009-12) leading the Ducks, including reaching the BCS championship game after the 2010 season. He won the Pac-12 three times and helped revolutionize offense in college football with his spread, no-huddle offense.
UCLA fired Jim Mora last Sunday with a game left. The Bruins (6-6) completed their regular season on Friday night, reaching bowl eligibility. In between, UCLA officials moved quickly to land Kelly, who was also being courted by Florida.He went 28-35 with Philadelphia and San Francisco from 2013-16, including 2-14 in 2016 with the 49ers.
Kelly agreed to a five-year, $23.3 million deal.


“I am thrilled to welcome Chip Kelly to Westwood,” UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said. “His success speaks for itself, but more than that, I firmly believe that his passion for the game and his innovative approach to coaching student-athletes make him the perfect fit for our program.”

The Bruins almost certainly fired Mora early — and ate more than $12 million remaining on his contract through 2021 — because they hoped to land Kelly, the most coveted coach on the college football landscape after his groundbreaking work at Oregon.

Florida also spoke to Kelly about its job opening. But after the Bruins’ presentation on Tuesday, which included input from former UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman and powerful booster Casey Wasserman, Kelly elected to return to the Pac-12 while staying on the West Coast, where he already has recruiting contacts after years of landing California talent for Oregon.

Kelly’s UCLA contract contains a $9 million reciprocal buyout, the Bruins said.

The search for a new Florida coach continues, as Kelly was out of the mix on Friday, according to published reports. UF athletic director Scott Stricklin said Friday night he would not address those reports.

“We’re going to end up in a good place,” he said. “The search is ongoing. There are a lot of agents putting a lot of information out there.”

Florida sent a team of six to Kelly’s home in New Hampshire on Sunday, but multiple sources told The Sun there was never a job offer. Sources also told The Sun that UF has been vetting several candidates and that assumptions it had settled on one person were not true.

Because Kelly was the only one of those candidates who was not dealing with an ongoing  season, he was the only one Florida was able to talk to directly.

Gainesville Sun staff writer Pat Dooley contributed to this report.


  1. Billy. SEC Country is reporting that Frost is not going to meet with Florida and he has a “done deal” to become the next head coach at Nebraska. Not sure Florida is or was all that interested in Frost from the get go. Just a lot of grains of salt out there right now.

    • I’m sorry but I don’t think Frost is talking to anyone. Not sure we get him but believe any report about a done deal at this time with Frost just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever….

      Frost has a great deal of integrity. A report like that at this time just doesn’t seem to fit.

  2. Thanks to Scott Stricklin for being such a bone head. 95% gut feeling Frost is going to Nebraska. Why you ever left New Hampshire without Kelly is mind boggling and your demand he keep sorry Randy Shannon as Defense Coordinator is just downright STUPID. The President should have given KELLY both the Head Coach Job AND the A.D Job.

    • Well said g. Kelley. Best post I have read in all this mess. I would only add one thing….the UAA, President and the AD all have an agenda. They absolutely hate the football program and are extremely content of its state of affairs now. They do not want Kelly, never did. They went up there to convince the fan base they actually cared. They do not want Frost, never did. They want Randy Shannon, and that is the end of it. Nussmeier will be his OC next year, and hopefully Stricklin is fired.

    • I never thought I would live long enough to see the day that UCLA was a better job than Florida. Once again we are going to settle for an “up and comer.” We have tried this twice and it has failed twice. Do you think we could possibly hire a successful power 5 coach? Please!!!

  3. We will only know for sure when a deal is signed, other wise it’s just a remour. I certainly know only one thing, whoever it is has to be better than the last 2 head coaches we had. I still hope it’s going to be Scott Frost. My guess is Florida will name it’s head coach before Dec. 2nd.

  4. Frost will likely have the same choice between Florida and Nebraska. He’s a UN alum so that’s a draw, but again the best job is Florida. Frost is very intelligent he knows he can win at Florida easier than Nebraska. It’s a LOT easier to talk recruits into coming to Gainesville than the Lincoln, Neb cornfields. He’s been recruiting in FL for the last 2 years. I’ve wanted Frost from the day Mac got whacked.

    • You’re absolutely correct, turnabout. Sadly, Nebraska is an example of where a program gets stuck after they’ve been down too long. Further along that road than the Gators are right now, but as we say in the Army, “Danger Close”.

  5. Mullin may be a very pleasant surprise at this point. It could be a very perspective driven statement, “We’re going to end up in a good place.” Anything other than McElwain could be considered a very good place by some people’s perspective and SS too. This could get really ugly by the time it’s over as there are A LOT of openings and more to come. SS could be playing this up for recruiting at this point. This is a high pressure position that has only 2 things going for it; high HBC pay and good recruiting. I don’t think this is a top 10 recruiting school and may not even be in the top 15 because of facilities, geographic location, and lack of state loyalty among prospects. This once again may be a very humbling experience like Zook, Chump, McElwain. It takes an amazingly great coach to have real success here. Spurrier and Meyer would probably be considered 2 of the top 20 college football coaches of all time. It’s not like they were above average.

  6. The AD won’t be able to make Florida fun again to watch. With coaches going elsewhere it would appear we will be left wondering what happened. Any new coach should have his choice of assistants . Looking at the empty stable of defensive studs we need a complete change. Clean house and let’s get back on track. Right now we aren’t even competitive

  7. How do we not break the bank for this guy? We’re going on a decade of futility on the offensive side of the ball, and Chip would fix that quick and in a hurry. You all have to stop with the lunacy though. I.e. Rene, the next Foley 2.0? Stop making Gator Nation look dumb. Foley is one of the best ADs around. Our school wins well at everything but football these days. Soccer, basketball, softball, volley ball, gynbastics, tennis, need I keep going. Foley is not perfect, but we’d be lucky to have 2.0 with this new guy who has never made a coaching hire. Come hell or high water they should have offered Kelly the job. Boneheaded not too considering how bad we are.

    • Desert Gator: Right on. A 10-win season would be regular under Kelly and that’s why UCLA is ready to hire him on his terms. We need a big-name coach when one is available and we shouldn’t be telling him who his assistant coaches need to be. Just offer him a good deal and let him run the show. What great head coach wants to be a puppet? Frost has many positives as a young HC, and he may be a football version of Billy Donovan, but Kelly has taken a team to a national championship in four years time. But from what we’re hearing, no offer was made. As far as Dan Mullin, his offense is not fun to watch. Stricklin promised to hire someone who would make things at the Swamp “fun again.” I hope he keeps his promise.

    • DesertGator. How do you know that Stricklin and company did not offer Kelly the job? You do not. No one but those in the inner circle of the hiring process know that. Kelly might not even want to leave ESPN right now, maybe wanting to wait it out for opportunities back in the NFL or with another college team on the East Coast, closer to New Hampshire. Who knows out here? I do know that everything out here is a grain of salt.

    • Kelly is still getting paid by the 49ers, he has all the money he could ever spend. I don’t think his decision has anything to do about money. If you think objectively, FL has one of the most demanding fan bases in the country, UCLA has less pressure and easier path to NC.

    • Sorry, prefer one (1) SEC football championship to 10 women’ national champ trophies. Good or bad UF is a baseball school now along with Vanderbilt and South Carolina. UF is not even a top 5 football program in the SEC!!!

  8. Kelly wasn’t the answer. With all the money and the cheating he couldn’t win a national championship at Oregon and he got whatever he wanted from Oregon and Nike.

    Mullen is a safer pick because he knows what it takes in the SEC and with Uf recruiting and as long as he focuses on South Florida speed and defensive line recruiting he can keep up with other SEC schools. Even Spurrier as great as he was couldn’t do that at South Carolina. I for one think Mullen is the best solution.

  9. I think the new coach search should include billy latsko or ricky nattiel former gator players who knows what it takes to win. If we don’t have a coach before early signing we are going to lose some of our recruits maybe Tim might be interesting in coaching.

  10. The sad part is DOOLEY know’s what is going on, however he will not tell us, or did he when he said, KELLY expected to be named the next UCLA Coach. Never would have dreamed I would be more concerned with who our new coach is going to be than beating the semi-holes. Faith is there and hope like hell that we can,
    “Bury the hatchet, Bury the spear, No Dam way your going to Win down Here, GO GATORS

  11. Looks like Stricklin messed this one up badly. He shot for the stars and made run at two coaches who would rather coach a soccer team in Beirut than come to Gainesville. I doubt Mullen is interested in coming here either. Looks like the 33 year dream is over. Unless Stricklin proves us all wrong, it looks like the Gators are headed back to a level of mediocrity that has never been experienced since the pre-Pell era on campus.

  12. Seems the dream coach scenario is fading unless an unexpected surprise happens. Everyone was excited about Kelly and Frost, but both have other destinations. Maybe Frost stays in FL which is an easier road that NB, but the ties to his school might be too strong to deny. It would take him longer to build a championship team there than two hours north west in Gainesville. It’s where his heart is now that matters.

  13. Am I missing something here? “Florida sent a team of six to Kelly’s home in New Hampshire on Sunday, but multiple sources told The Sun there was never a job offer.” If there was no job offer exactly why did UF send SIX people to a potential coaching candidate’s house? And who the hell footed the bill?

  14. I guess Kelly would would rather live in a high tax state like California with 10% off the top for income tax, plus higher sales and property tax and higher cost of living than Gainesville.

    Was this issue even brought up by those who met with Kelly?

    Oh well, I guess you can’t fix stupid.

    • I am pretty sure Kelly would not need to have the obvious pointed out to him. The top bracket in CA pays 13.30% which means based just on what UCLA alone will pay him, Kelly is willing to spend around $620k annually not to coach the Gators.

      OUCH!!! What else needs to be said other than, “My how the mighty Gators have fallen.”

  15. LOL. The whole university flew a private jet to New Hampshire to meet Kelly but they didn’t offer him the job. They were considering lot of candidates. The goggles are on. The gainesville journalist(s) and sites are in total protection mode at this point.

  16. Good for him and very good for us. We just got rid of one jack ass we don’t need another one, no matter how innovative he is thought to be. If we can’t get a good choice now wait another year if needed.

  17. This just in…ESPN reporting the absolute ‘mega hire’ of Terry ‘Punkinhead’ Bowden to the Florida Gators! Florida’s AD, referencing Auburn’s National Championship under Bowden’s tenure there said the pedigree is solid and with there virtually no coaches left to pick from, now that Chip Kelly has vacated the list, ‘Punkinhead’ was the obvious choice.

  18. UF wants it both ways. They want a squeaky clean coach who is smart and willing to conform and kiss UF top official ass at a moments notice. Sorry! Can’t have it both ways. Most smart, driven, and successful people are quirky nonconformist with skeletons/blood on their hands. Mark it down! UF is getting Strong or Tagert. Then 3-4 more years of mediocrity!

  19. “Kelly was out of the mix on Friday, according to published reports.”

    You can’t break up with me Chip, when I already broke up with you on Friday.

    I want to puke. We are pathetic and a laughingstock. Anyone else think that in spite of St. Timmy someone at UF sold their soul for those two natties? It kind of feels like it to me.

    And FWIW I don’t think Frost even give

  20. Incredible to me that the only FACT that is currently known is that Chip Kelly decided to take the UCLA job, rather than the UF job. There are a LOT of possible reasons why this could be the case, including the fact that Kelly already has a strong recruiting network in California, and none here, and that a powerful booster and benefactor (Wasserman) helped make the pitch for UCLA (Kelly enjoyed the same at Oregon with Phil Knight), whereas UF has no such booster/benefactor to ensure that Kelly will get whatever he wants, whenever he wants it.

    In the end, the conjecture that Kelly’s decision was based on such things as “UF insisting on Kelly hiring certain assistants (i.e., Shannon), or the lack of UF’s current facilities, or the UF administration wanting to “interfere” in Kelly’s selection of assistants, or that UF “never made an offer”, is nothing but gossip and rumor. Kelly and his agent always had the upper hand in the negotiation, and never had a compelling reason to make a decision until having the opportunity to weigh multiple offers.

    Additionally, the notion that UF “has lost Scott Frost to Nebraska”, or that UF “has fallen to the point that no one wants to coach here”, or that “Stricklin, Fuchs, and the UAA all ‘absolutely hate the football program and are extremely content of its state of affairs” is also just gossip and mindless rants from folks who refuse to separate reality from fiction.

    Many of the next set of desirable coaches (Frost, Norvell, etc) won’t be available for direct discussions for another week, though conversations with their agents can certainly be underway in the meantime.

    Since Stricklin has done an unprecedented job of keeping leaks to a minimum, we should expect another week where everything we read that doesn’t come from Stricklin is gossip and rumor, which journalists and others use to fill the real information void.

    In my opinion, the best answer is to trust Stricklin to land the best available coach for UF, and to enjoy Mike White’s great basketball team, and other fall sports, while we wait for Stricklin’s announcement. It’s great to be a Gator!

    • I’ve read multiple places that one of the major factors in choosing UCLA was that UF insisted on keeping 3 assistants (I assume Shannon, Seider and Rumph). I am sorry, not one of those guys is worth missing out on Chip. If this is how Stricklin is gonna do business, we’re screwed. Shannon is a below average DC and hasn’t proven to be a great recruiter, I think one could argue you’d want to keep Skipper over Shannon.

      We may never know how much this truly weighed Chip’s decision but where there’s smoke, there’s fire and Stricklin better get off his high horse now and realize that once we get our guy, give him what he wants and get out of the way. My guess is that Stricklin can’t do that and will spook Frost off and we’ll end up with Taggart or Strong. Out of the two, I’ll take Strong. He wants the UF job bad, has coached at UF, very good defensive mind, recruits Florida well and more importantly, I like his OC Sterling Gilbert, he’s a Air Raid guy and basically runs the Baylor offense under Art Briles

      • If a AD wants to keep assistants you can bet it’s because of buyouts and they do not want to spend the money. Its Foley 2.0 all over again. Find a HC making 1.5 million and offer him 3 million. This mentality has achieved the last 9 years of mediocre results and a program in decline.