UCLA has shown improvement in Chip Kelly’s third season in Westwood; however, Kelly is not guaranteed to return in 2021 even with a win over Stanford on Saturday.
Industry sources tell FootballScoop on Thursday that new Bruins AD Martin Jarmond plans to evaluate all options following this game, including potentially making a change from Kelly, whom he inherited upon his hiring in May.
In the event UCLA does move on from Kelly, sources tell FootballScoop Jarmond would be expected to vet the interest of Urban Meyer and Chris Petersen.
Jarmond and Meyer’s relationship dates back eight years, to when the future Hall of Fame coach came aboard at Ohio State. Jarmond was intimately involved with the program, serving as lead administrator for football at Ohio State. Sources said the pair’s relationship extends beyond football, that the two are genuine friends.
It’s with that angle that UCLA would pursue Meyer, who already this month turned down overtures from Texas. Meyer has never definitively stated he is done with coaching, only that it would take the “perfect job” to lure him back to the sidelines. Questions about stress triggering pre-existing health problems and an inability to secure key lieutenants from his Ohio State staff kept him from taking the Texas job, but Jarmond’s existing relationship with Meyer could shortcut those issues.
It’s also worth noting that sources tell FootballScoop multiple NFL teams are checking in with Meyer to see if the three-time national champion Meyer has an interest in coaching professionally.
Jarmond likewise has an admiration for Petersen. Sources tell FootballScoop the pair held conversations last winter while Jarmond was at Boston College, shortly after Petersen stepped down at Washington, before Jarmond ultimately hired Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley.
Meyer and Petersen are two of the most successful coaches of all time. Meyer’s .854 winning percentage is the highest in college football history with a minimum of 150 games coached (Meyer coached 219), Petersen’s .795 mark is 13th.
Needless to say, securing either coach would be a game-changer for UCLA football, a move UCLA thought it made when beating out Florida for Kelly’s services in 2017. Kelly is 10-20 in nearly three full seasons, including 10-14 in Pac-12 play.
UCLA would owe Kelly $9 million should he be let go after this season. Kelly’s contract structure is somewhat unique: his buyout remains a flat $9 million through Jan. 15, 2022.
UCLA recently announced a new deal with Jordan brand which becomes effective June of next year.
It is entirely possible for any number of reasons that Jarmond could decide retaining Kelly going into the 2021 season is the best decision for UCLA. If that were to be the case, sources tell FootballScoop changes within Kelly’s staff would be likely.
UCLA, 3-3 on the season, on Thursday became the latest team to decline a bowl invitation, meaning the Bruins’ season will end Saturday and Jarmond’s evaluation process shall begin.
In the meantime, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.
Update> UCLA AD Martin Jarmond says our report is not accurate.