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Bruins to Buckeyes: Chip Kelly to leave UCLA for Ohio State OC position

UCLA football coach Chip Kelly stands on the sidelines during a game. After six years with the Bruins, Kelly is reportedly joining Ryan Day’s staff at Ohio State as its next offensive coordinator. (Myka Fromm/Assistant Photo editor)

By Jack Nelson

Feb. 9, 2024 11:43 a.m.

This post was updated Feb. 12 at 9:20 a.m.

Chip Kelly is taking a demotion in the college ranks, and he’s leaving the Bruins behind him.

After six years as head coach of UCLA football, Kelly will reportedly serve as the next offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Bruin Report Online initially reported Kelly’s departure from the team Friday, with ESPN senior writer Pete Thamel and Los Angeles Times reporter Ben Bolch confirming Kelly’s new position. 

“I want to sincerely thank Chip for his service to UCLA Football and our student-athletes across the past six seasons and wish the best to him and his wife Jill moving forward,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a statement.

Bill O’Brien – who held the position with the Buckeyes for three weeks – was hired by Boston College as its next head coach, opening the door for Kelly to step in.

Now, Kelly will be joining the staff of Ryan Day, someone he already has a rapport with. Day was Kelly’s quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 and the San Francisco 49ers in 2016. The duo has also collaborated at the collegiate level before – Kelly was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire from 1998 to 2002, during which Day played quarterback and linebacker for the Wildcats.

Compiling a 35-34 overall record at UCLA, Kelly delivered winning seasons in each of his latter three years in Westwood following losing finishes in his first three campaigns. The Bruins went 4-5 in Pac-12 play and 8-5 overall in 2023, capping the year with an LA Bowl win to mark the maiden bowl game victory of Kelly’s tenure.

But he also failed to bring UCLA to the Pac-12 Championship in his six years, going 6-12 against top-25 programs and 8-28 against those that finished with a winning record.

The tail end of Kelly’s final year at the helm – rife with fanbase criticism after losses to Arizona State and California – featured mixed reports of UCLA Athletics’ plan to fire or retain him. Fans paid for a banner to be flown over campus that spelled out “Read the room – fire Chip Kelly.”

Jarmond eventually confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that Kelly would remain with the program for 2024. Kelly had signed a contract extension last March that would have kept him with the Bruins through the 2027 season.

The departure of UCLA’s sideline leader punctuates an offseason of considerable coaching turnover. Defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn, tight ends coach Jeff Faris, quarterbacks coach Ryan Gunderson and director of leadership Ken Niumatalolo all left for positions elsewhere in college football, while running backs and associate head coach DeShaun Foster took to the NFL.

A number of UCLA players took to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, on Friday morning, publicizing support for Foster and new defensive coordinator Ikaika Malloe as potential head coaching replacements. 

The Bruins have already begun the search for their next head coach, preparing for their first season in the Big Ten – where they’ll play the Buckeyes in 2025.

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Jack Nelson | Sports senior staff
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
Nelson is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats and a contributor on the men's tennis and women's tennis beats.
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