A few former Bruins have been taking some parting shots at coach Chip Kelly.
After three UCLA football alumni sued former coach Jim Mora in May for his role in their career-ending injuries, a handful of other Bruins have taken to social media to turn the conversation to Kelly.
Former high school football coach and football safety activist Kent Johnson compiled a list of seven other Mora-era players who medically retired while at UCLA, but linebacker Jaelan Phillips was quick to shift the blame.
Phillips tweeted that Kelly was the reason tight end Jimmy Jaggers, running back Soso Jamabo and others retired rather than Mora, who had recruited and coached all of them.
Phillips – who withdrew from UCLA in December due to injuries before announcing his intentions to transfer to the University of Miami for his junior season in February – wasn’t alone in his accusations.
Linebacker Mique Juarez medically retired during spring practices in March, but he claimed the decision to end his career wasn’t his – it was Kelly’s.
He said Kelly told him he would not get playing time even if he recovered and the coach didn’t want Juarez to take that risk regardless, according to the LA Times. Juarez – who transferred to Utah for his final year of eligibility – took to Twitter as well, also insinuating that players were calling it quits due to Kelly, not Mora.
Juarez and Phillips were both five-star recruits in high school – a distinction not awarded to offensive lineman Justin Murphy before he committed to Texas Tech in 2015.
Murphy eventually transferred to UCLA for his fifth year of eligibility, playing the 2018 season under Kelly before transferring again to the University of Houston on June 3. But despite only being a Bruin for five months, Murphy came to his coach’s defense on Twitter, directly calling out his former teammates by claiming their decisions to leave the program were connected to their five-star backgrounds.
The offensive lineman called Kelly “a class act,” but Phillips rebutted and claimed that he, Juarez and others were only staying loyal to Mora.
The discussion stayed between recent transfers until June 13, when Inside the Team – a site run by anonymous former NCAA football players – joined the fray.
Inside the Team aims to highlight the best and worst coaches in the country from players’ perspectives, and one anonymous current UCLA player said he and his teammates are scared of Kelly, but no one is willing to stand up to him. The player claimed that only 10 players even had their coach’s phone number and that Kelly abuses his power.
Center Scott Quessenberry played four years under Mora before getting picked by the Los Angeles Chargers in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Kelly never coached Quessenberry, but the offensive lineman was still quick to defend his alma mater’s leading man.
Quessenberry criticized the complaining players, saying on Twitter that they didn’t understand that culture change was necessary to win with a new coach. He said Mora did the same thing his first year in Westwood – take what was wrong before he got there and change things up.
Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes, another Bruin in the NFL, stood by Kelly as well – despite leaving for the pros several months before he was hired.
So while Mora is being sued for his negligence of concussions, Kelly is being criticized for his rigid adherence to the program’s concussion protocols.