Chip Kelly Returning to College Coaching With U.C.L.A.

Chip Kelly Returning to College Coaching With U.C.L.A.

Kelly was 28-35 with the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers from 2013 to 2016, getting fired from both teams after losing seasons.

The Bruins almost certainly fired Mora early — and ate more than $12 million remaining on his contract through 2021 — because they hoped to land Kelly, the most coveted coach on the college football landscape after his groundbreaking work at Oregon.

Florida also spoke to Kelly about its job opening. But after the Bruins’ presentation on Tuesday, which included input from the former U.C.L.A. quarterback Troy Aikman and the powerful booster Casey Wasserman, Kelly elected to return to the Pac-12 while staying on the West Coast, where he has recruiting contacts after years of landing California talent for Oregon.

Kelly’s U.C.L.A. contract contains a $9 million reciprocal buyout, the Bruins said.

Jedd Fisch, Mora’s first-year offensive coordinator, served as the Bruins’ interim head coach on Friday night when U.C.L.A. (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12) beat California, 30-27, at the Rose Bowl to earn bowl eligibility for the fifth time in Mora’s six seasons.

Kelly probably sees an opportunity to do big things at U.C.L.A., which plays in the Rose Bowl in the nation’s second-largest media market. Although the Bruins are usually overshadowed by their powerhouse rival, Southern California, U.C.L.A. is hoping Kelly can be the ingredient that tips the balance back toward the Bruins, who had only seven winning records in the previous 14 years.

Kelly changed college football during his short tenure in charge of Oregon, but he left Eugene for the challenge and rewards presented by the N.F.L. and the Eagles. He was fired late in his third season in Philadelphia despite posting winning records in his first two campaigns. He spent last season in charge of the 49ers, who fired him after going 2-14.

Mora leaves behind plenty of elite talent on the university’s beautiful campus where U.C.L.A. recently opened the Wasserman Football Center, a lavish training complex that provides the Bruins with facilities approaching the standards of their Pac-12 competitors — even Oregon, with its impressive trappings backed by Nike’s Phil Knight.

Kelly becomes the Bruins’ fifth full-time coach since 1995, when Terry Donahue left after winning five Pac-10 titles during 20 seasons. The Bruins won two more league titles in the late 1990s under Bob Toledo, but they have not claimed another conference crown or appeared in the postseason Rose Bowl in two decades.

Mora was arguably the Bruins’ most successful coach since Donahue, going 46-30 and starting off his tenure with four consecutive winning seasons. Mora’s second and third teams tied the modest school record with 10 wins, and he fended off apparent interest from Texas and N.F.L. teams to stay at U.C.L.A.

But the Bruins declined sharply in the past two seasons. U.C.L.A. was 4-8 last year with one of the Football Bowl Subdivision’s worst offenses even before losing quarterback Josh Rosen for the second half of the season with a shoulder injury.

U.C.L.A. has gone undefeated at the Rose Bowl and winless on the road this season, with an inconsistent defense causing most of the problems this time. The Bruins are third worst among the Power 5 conferences with 37.6 points allowed per game, and second worst in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 288.7 yards rushing allowed per game.

The Bruins won only 10 of their last 27 games under Mora after their 28-23 loss to U.S.C. last Saturday night.

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