UCLA, Chip Kelly Agree To 4 Year Contract Extension

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly agreed to a new four-year contract on Friday after leading the Bruins to their best season since 2015.

Kelly was set to begin the final year of a five-year, $23.3 million contract, that he originally signed in November 2017, on Sunday.

“We are extremely appreciative of the entire UCLA administration for their support of our football program,” Kelly said in a press release. “We have a tremendous amount of gratitude for our players and staff. Their tireless work, and commitment to our vision has built a great foundation. We are excited to continue to build this program into something that makes the UCLA fanbase proud.”

The new contract is worth an average of $4.7 million per year, a source has told Jon Wilner of The Mercury News.

The extension comes days after two of Kelly’s coordinators had officially departed to take jobs with other college programs, and another coordinator had reportedly resigned from his position.

All three coordinators had been with the program since Kelly took the UCLA job in 2018.

In 2021, Kelly led the Bruins to their first winning season (8-4 overall, 6-3 Pac-12) during his tenure. UCLA became bowl eligible for the first time under Kelly, but the team was forced to back out of the Holiday Bowl, just hours before kickoff, due to COVID-19 protocols.

The program had a promising start to the season that featured a victory over LSU but stumbled out of the AP Top 25 poll and began to veer toward another .500 season in October.

The Bruins went 3-0 in the month of November and blew out rival USC, 62-33, which appeared to be enough to extend Kelly’s stay in Westwood and avoid the coaching carousel chaos.

Kelly was considered a candidate for the Oregon coaching job during the final week of the early signing period and early preparation for the bowl game. He confirmed that he did receive a phone call from the University of Oregon and had a conversation about their coaching job before the Ducks hired Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning.

Kelly was asked on several occasions about the status of his contract status but never wanted to address his contract publicly.

If the university wanted to go in a different direction, Kelly would have been owed a $9 million buyout.

The athletic department reported an $18.9 million deficit for the 2019 fiscal year, according to information obtained by Wilner. UCLA could have avoided paying the buyout if it kept Kelly employed through Jan. 15, the final day of his fourth year. Kelly’s fifth year did not include a buyout.

“This new contract represents the commitment, stability and investment needed to continue the upward trajectory of our football program,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement. “Since joining UCLA, our football team’s winning percentage has increased every year, including increased momentum in recruiting and strategic use of the transfer portal.”

The extension is a vote of confidence in a coach who has gone 18-25 in his first four seasons. He took over after Jim Mora Jr. was fired in 2017 and had a roster largely filled with underclassmen his first two seasons. The Bruins were 3-9 and 4-8 in his first two years, then went 3-4 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

The decision to keep Kelly, who is 64-32 as a college coach, also provides some stability for a program that has not had consecutive winning seasons since 2014-15.

Kelly will have to get to work replacing three key assistant coaches: offensive coordinator Justin Frye, who left for Ohio State to become its associate head coach for offense and offensive line coach; special teams coordinator Derek Sage, who left to become Nevada’s offensive coordinator; and defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro, who has reportedly resigned.

Aside from the new openings on the coaching staff, roster management will be a top priority this offseason and something Kelly talked about in late November.

Most of the Bruins’ draft-eligible players have made their future intentions clear while 12 other players have already left the program via the transfer portal.

Ten high school seniors signed during the early signing period. Kelly has said he’ll consider exploring the transfer portal to use any remaining scholarships.

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UCLA has used the transfer portal to its advantage the past two years, bringing in quarterback Ethan Garbers (Washington), running back Zach Charbonnet (Michigan) and defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (Kent State).

In December, the Bruins looked to have already landed a big commitment from highly touted quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who transferred out of Central Florida, but that was short-lived. Gabriel flipped his commitment to Oklahoma, but UCLA’s four-year starting quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, announced on Monday that he is returning for his final season of eligibility.

On Friday, Charbonnet joined Thompson-Robinson in saying he will return for his senior season.

The Bruins could get off to a quick start next season. They have one of the easiest nonconference slates of any Power Five program, hosting Bowling Green, Alabama State and South Alabama before beginning Pac-12 play at Colorado on Sept. 24.

Source : https://www.dailynews.com/2022/01/14/ucla-chip-kelly-agree-to-4-year-contract-extension/

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