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Buyouts and Chip Kelly’s grocery bill lands UCLA with $18.9 million deficit in 2019

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A difficult year for UCLA on the football field was just as difficult on the balance sheet.

According to details obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, the Bruins reported a shocking $18.9 million deficit for the recent 2018-19 fiscal year. This was the result of $108.4 million in revenue and $127.3 million in outgoing expenses.

“A confluence of events over the past two years led us to this point,” AD Dan Guerrero said in a statement to the paper, “and while it is unusual for us, we expect this shortfall can be mitigated.

“The investments made into our football and men’s basketball programs will pay off, ticket sales will normalize and one-time expenses will be paid.”

Those investments included a nearly 30 percent increase in the football program’s funding since the hire of Chip Kelly in late 2017. While former head coach Jim Mora’s buyout (nearly $12.5 million) was recorded in the previous year’s budget, the effects of it naturally carried over and created an even tricker situation when basketball coach Steve Alford’s buyout was thrown in for 2019.

In addition to buyouts, the grocery bill seemed to play a pretty big factor in the deficit as well. While this doesn’t appear to just be the case of switching from Albertsons to Whole Foods, under Kelly the program’s budget for nutrition ballooned from just a shade under $1 million to nearly $5.4 million last year. Add in decreased ticket sales in football (down $3.5 million from projections) after a disappointing year and increased costs from other places in the department and you can see how UCLA quickly went from being in the black into the red.

Needless to say, that puts even more pressure on Kelly and company to help turn things around in 2020. Things in Westwood haven’t been rosy in some time in the major revenue-producing sports and it seems it’s finally caught up to the folks in powder blue.

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

Boston College plucks DL coach from UCLA

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Jeff Hafley continues to assemble his first Boston College football coaching staff, with an assistant on the defensive side next up.

Thursday, BC announced the hiring of Vince Oghobaase as Hafley’s defensive line coach.  And, for those curious, the new coach’s surname is pronounced oh-guh-BAH-see.

From 2016-17, Oghobaase was the assistant defensive line coach for the San Francisco 49ers.  During those two years, Hafley was the NFL team’s secondary coach before he moved on to Ohio State for the 2019 season.

Oghobaase also has experience at OSU, serving as a defensive graduate assistant for the Buckeyes for three years (2013-15).

In 2018-19, Oghobaase was the line coach for Chip Kelly at UCLA.

“I had the opportunity to work with Vince in San Francisco and his knowledge of the game, energy and commitment to the players jumped out to me,” said the Boston College football head coach in a statement. “At Ohio State, he trained under one of the best defensive line coaches in all of football in Larry Johnson and he gained excellent experience the last two seasons at the defensive line coach at UCLA. We are so excited to have Vince join our BC football family.”

Oghobaase began his coaching career at Duke, working as a graduate assistant for the Devils for two seasons (2011-12).  He played his college football for the Blue Devils from 2006-09.

Oklahoma confirms addition of UCLA transfer WR Theo Howard

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Just ahead of the championship game kicking off, there’s been some confirmation as to the latest addition to the Oklahoma Sooners football roster.

Last week, Theo Howard indicated on social media that he will be transferring to Oklahoma and continuing his playing career with the Sooners.  The announcement came nearly three months after the wide receiver decided to transfer from UCLA.

Late Monday afternoon, the official Twitter account of the Oklahoma Sooners football program confirmed Howard’s signing.

Prior to the OU announcement, Howard had also considered Arizona, Baylor, Oregon State, TCU and Washington.

Howard graduated from UCLA in December, giving him immediate eligibility at OU this coming season.

In 2018, Howard earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors after catching 51 passes for 677 yards and four touchdowns. Because of a pair of hand injuries that sidelined him for a sizable chunk of 2019, Moore didn’t record a catch this past season for the Bruins.  Because he played in fewer than four games, he was able to use a redshirt for the 2019 season.

During his time at UCLA, Howard totaled 1,359 yards and nine touchdowns on 119 receptions. In a loss to OU in September of 2018, Howard caught two passes for 53 yards.  He didn’t record a catch in the Bruins’ loss to the Sooners this past September.

Two more UCLA football players enter transfer portal, increasing number of departures to a baker’s dozen

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For UCLA football, this transfer thing is becoming old hat.  Very old hat.

Back in mid-October, it was reported that a whopping 63 players had left Chip Kelly’s team since November of 2017 for various reasons. As a result, we wrote at the time, not only was the team down a number of scholarship players, but the bulk of those remaining were young and inexperienced — with some 53% of the roster was made up of freshmen alone.

Earlier this month, we noted that an 11th player had entered the portal since that mid-October report.  Monday, that number increased to a baker’s dozen as it’s being reported that defensive tackle and Ulysses Aburto and linebacker Jayce Smalley are now listed in the database.

Both players began their careers with UCLA football as walk-ons, Smalley in 2017 and Aburto in 2019.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Smalley played in 12 games the past two seasons.  Four of those appearances came this past season.

Aburto took a redshirt for the 2019 season.

The other Bruins to enter the portal recently are:

  • Tight end Joshua Harris
  • Tight end Matt Lynch (HERE)
  • Defensive lineman David Vardanian
  • Defensive lineman Marcus Moore
  • Offensive lineman Christaphany Murray (HERE)
  • Offensive lineman Bryan Weitzman
  • Wide receiver Theo Howard (HERE)
  • Running back Kenroy Higgins II
  • Linebacker Tyree Thompson (HERE)
  • Linebacker Je’Vari Anderson
  • Linebacker Noah Keeter (HERE)

The most noteworthy of those departures were Howard and Murray.  Howard earned honorable mention All-Pac-12 honors in 2018, while Murray started every game during his two seasons with the Bruins.

Thompson started every game in 2018 but missed all of 2019 due to injury.