Skip to main content

Report: No guarantee Chip Kelly returns to UCLA

Kelly has one year left on his contract, his buyout drops to zero in a matter of days, and the results on the field could be argued either way.

UCLA's season ended on a weird note, and I'm not talking about pulling out of the Holiday Bowl with no warning hours before kickoff

With the end of the season, Chip Kelly is now under contract only for 2022, but that's not all. As of today, his buyout is $9 million. As of Jan. 16, the number drops to zero.

Kelly could leave for another job at no cost to him, and UCLA could let him go at no cost to the school.

On top of all this, the Kelly tenure is at a point where it really could go either way.

On the one hand, Kelly is 18-25 (16-18 Pac-12) -- a far cry from the days when Kelly ran the Pac-10 at Oregon.

On the other, Kelly's 2021 season was his best in Westwood thus far. The Bruins went 8-4 and won their final three games.

Is that enough to sign Kelly to a massive new deal? Probably not. Is that enough to simply let him go? No, it's not.

As he lays out the state of play, Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury-News writes:

To be clear: We believe it’s more likely than not that Kelly will coach the Bruins next season. But by no means is his return guaranteed, according to sources familiar with the situation.

As he writes, there are three options before UCLA:

-- Let him walk, which then involves resetting the program in the middle of January, a headache of an endeavor at a disadvantageous time.

-- Extend Kelly, but the chess move there is finding a number that works for both sides. Too much money and it exacerbates UCLA's budgetary issues (the department is carrying a multi-year deficit of $40 million), too little and Kelly could feel insulted and walk on his own.

-- Let him coach 2022 on the final year of his contract. This is nearly unprecedented in modern-day college football, and for good reason. It would place the program in yearlong purgatory and would essentially become an invitation for UCLA's rivals to negative recruit against them. 

All in all, it's a precarious situation for the program, and resolution should come at any point in the next two weeks...... or it could drag out for the next 52 weeks. Stay tuned.