UCLA has announced it has relieved head coach Jim Mora of his coaching duties effective immediately. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch will take over as the team’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.
“Making a coaching change is never easy, but it’s an especially difficult decision when you know that a coach has given his all to our University,” UCLA athletics director Dan Guerrero in a released statement. “Jim helped reestablish our football program, and was instrumental in so many ways in moving the program forward. While his first four seasons at UCLA were very successful, the past two seasons have not met expectations. We thank Jim and his family for his service to our school and his unquestionable commitment to our student-athletes.”
Mora was in his sixth season as the head coach of the Bruins and it was largely a run that had some promise at times but never fully took advantage of a division that included a USC program held back by NCAA sanctions. Mora coached UCLA to two 10-win seasons in 2013 and 2014 and has seen his win totals hit 8, 4 and 5 wins in the three seasons since. What makes the Mora legacy so frustrating is he had talent to work with. Among solid recruiting classes during his time at UCLA, Mora coached two NFL quarterbacks in Brett Hundley and Josh Rosen as well as one of the top defensive players in recent years (Myles Jack) still failed to deliver a Pac-12 championship. Mora was 46-30 as UCLA’s head coach, but the trends were heading in the wrong direction at a time when crosstown rival USC continues to be rising, thus increasing the pressure for UCLA to keep up.
UCLA’s loss on Saturday night to the Trojans dropped UCLA to 5-6 on the season, leaving the Bruins in need of a win this week against Cal in order to become bowl eligible (without hoping for vacancies needing to be filled by 5-win teams). USC will play for the Pac-12 championship a year after going winning the Rose Bowl in the stadium UCLA calls home.
The UCLA job is one that should be expected to draw some interesting names to the rumor mill. Among them could end up being Chip Kelly, who doesn’t feel like a great fit in the SEC and has past success in the Pac-12 while at Oregon. UCLA’s release confirms the school will begin a national search for a new head coach.
With Florida officially on the market for a new head coach of the football program, it has not taken too long for the rumor mill to get moving. The Florida gig figures to see a number of familiar names attached to it during the rumor season, some more realistic options than others. This is also a time to never take anything for granted but also a time not to place too much faith in every little thing you read. With that in mind, Florida Athletics Director Scott Stricklin took to Twitter to confront one rumor head on.
Houston radio personality Marc Ryan shared an update on his Twitter feed claiming Florida has reached out to representatives for former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, former Oregon, and NFL head coach Chip Kelly and current USF head coach Charlie Strong to speak about the open posiiton in Gainesville. According to Ryan, he says these are the top three options on the wish list for Florida.
On the surface, it would make sense for a school like Florida to contact these coaches. One is a former coach with a national championship to his name. The other was one of the top coaches in the Pac-12 before taking a stab at the NFL (and failing miserably, but so did former Florida coach Steve Spurrier). And the last one is a former Florida assistant who has redeemed his coaching pedigree a bit this season at USF, one of the top Group of Five contenders right in the state of Florida.
But just as this is the time of the year to spread coaching rumors on the internet, it is also denial season from ADs and other school officials. And Stricklin certainly had quite the denial ready to go once he saw this one making the rounds.
The quote by Edgar Allen Poe comes from a short story, “The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether,” that originally was published in a November 1845 issue of Graham’s Magazine. Even if the original report from Twitter has any validity, this is exactly what you would expect an AD to say regarding his coaching search. But at least he had some fun with it by pulling a classic quote from a literary master.
It did not take long for people to start talking about who the next head coach at Ole Miss will be following the Thursday night resignation of Hugh Freeze. And somehow, one of the betting favorites has quickly become former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.
As noted by Rocky Top Talk, the Tennessee blog on SB Nation, the former Vols coach and current assistant with the Dallas Cowboys is listed as the second most-favored coach to take over at Ole Miss, listed at +500 according to BetOnline. SMU head coach Chad Morris is the current betting favorite on the betting website, with Morris listed at +300 to be the next coach of the Rebels.
Other names on the board include former LSU head coach Les Miles (+800), and former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly (+1400). FAU head coach Lane Kiffin has been having fun trolling about the Ole Miss fallout on Twitter, yet he is also on the board at +1600.
For what it is worth, interim head coach Matt Luke has also been given odds to keep the job, and he is listed at +1200.
Here are the latest odds as listed by BetOnline;
- Chad Morris +300
- Derek Dooley +500
- Blake Anderson +700
- Les Miles +800
- Mike Norvell +1000
- Brent Venables +1200
- Scott Frost +1400
- Chip Kelly +1400
- Neal Brown +1600
- Lane Kiffin +1600
- Mike MacIntyre +1600
- Charlie Strong +1600
- Willie Fritz +2000
- Bryan Harsin +2000
- Bobby Petrino +2500
So place your bets wisely. But if you choose to place your money on Dooley, you might as well just send me your money instead.
After being cut from his second NFL job in as many years just after the college football coaching carousel came to a halt, we just knew Chip Kelly couldn’t keep himself away from the college football game this fall.
ESPN announced today Kelly has been hired to be a college football studio analyst with the network for the upcoming season.
“Chip is one of the most innovative football minds of our generation,” ESPN senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting, said in a released statement. “As a coach, he saw the game from a unique perspective, never afraid to take an unconventional approach. We want him to bring that mentality to our college football coverage each week, offering fans a varying viewpoint outside of the conventional thought process.”
Kelly says he is ready for the new job.
“Over the last 30 years, I have experienced football from one perspective – as a coach,” Kelly said in his statement. “Working in television will allow me to see the game from a different angle; simultaneously, I‘ll provide viewers an insight to the mindset of a coach and team while offering alternative views of various situations.”
Of course, the obvious thought here is this studio gig with ESPN is a one-year job at the most for Kelly, because his name will be one of the most popular names in the coaching rumor mills the moment something goes wrong at any number of programs this upcoming season. Kelly has been fending off rumors about his expected return to college coaching from the very beginning of his brief run in the NFL, first with the Philadelphia Eagles and then with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s pretty much par for the course for the former Oregon Ducks coach who also fought off NFL rumors for years before finally leaving for the NFL.
The job could be a good fit for Kelly, because he certainly knows his football and has a unique perspective to offer. Kelly could follow a path previously ventured by Rich Rodriguez (Michigan to CBS Sports Network to Arizona) and Urban Meyer (Florida to ESPN to Ohio State).
If there is one person who may be happy to have Kelly on board, it may be Monday Night Football analysts Jon Gruden, who now will hear a co-worker’s name heard in rumor mills more often for the next few months.
Alabama needs an offensive coordinator after losing Steve Sarkisian to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, but could Nick Saban go as far as to bring in Chip Kelly to fill the vacancy on the coaching staff? The combination seems to be too interesting to ignore, the former Oregon head coach is not throwing his visor into the conversation at this time.
In a brief insider buzz video by Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, Kelly has no interest in the vacancy on the Alabama coaching staff. Instead, Kelly has a desire to remain in the National Football League as either a head coach (that won’t happen after being fired from two head coaching gigs in as many seasons) or an offensive coordinator (this is more likely, but far from a given after how his offensive system has been exploited the last few years in the pros).
Of course, it is worth reminding readers coaches will never, or very rarely, express interest in any particular job that may be on the market. Kelly is no stranger to turning aside any number of coaching rumors over the years from denying interest in any NFL opportunities during his time at Oregon and denying interest in any college jobs during his time in the NFL. Of course, Kelly always had a job when previously asked to address coaching rumors, and now Kelly is sitting on the unemployment line of football coaches after being fired by the San Francisco 49ers. That makes this round of rumor denials different, because he is very much available.
This is not to say Kelly is lying about his level of interest in the Alabama offensive coordinator job. It is still possible Kelly will be an attractive coaching candidate for any number of jobs the next time the coaching carousel gets in full swing next season, both as an offensive coordinator and as a (college) head coach.
There is another former Oregon coach who could end up being a more likely possibility. Mark Helfrich, like Kelly, has been a trendy name in the rumor mill for the Alabama job. Helfrich was fired by Oregon this past season after a disappointing season. Saban could just stay in house too with Mike Locksley a viable candidate already on the staff.
Saban has said before Alabama will always find a way to hire the best possible coaches they can when the program loses coaches to other jobs, and there is no question that should continue with this latest coaching vacancy to fill.