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Chip Kelly, UCLA Agree to 5-Year, $23.3 Million Contract

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2017

SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the San Francisco 49ers looks on from the sidelines against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter of their NFL football game at Levi's Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

UCLA announced Saturday it named Chip Kelly its next head coach. The parties agreed to a five-year, $23.3 million contract with a $9 million reciprocal buyout.

Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times first reported the news.

"It is an absolute honor to join the Bruin family, and I am grateful to Chancellor [Gene] Block and to [athletics director] Dan Guerrero for this incredible opportunity," Kelly said, per the program's announcement. "UCLA is a world-class institution with a distinguished history in athletics, and we will do our part to uphold its tradition of excellence."

It's Kelly's third job in as many years after head coaching stints with the Philadelphia Eagles (2013-2015) and San Francisco 49ers (2016). San Francisco fired Kelly after ownership decided to go in a different direction and also fired general manager Trent Baalke.

In four NFL seasons, Kelly was 28-35. While his tenure in Philadelphia began with back-to-back 10-6 seasons, he was fired from that job after the Eagles started 6-9 in 2015. The Niners went 2-14 under Kelly in 2016, though he also took the reins while they were in the early stages of rebuilding.

Nonetheless, Kelly—once considered one of the most progressive minds in football—never had the success in the NFL that he managed during his four seasons with Oregon, with which he went 46-7 and led the Ducks to two Rose Bowls, a Fiesta Bowl and the BCS title game in 2010.

His fast-paced, zone-read offense grew consistently less effective during his time in the NFL as teams adjusted to his style of play.

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"We knew what plays were coming, and it's a pretty basic offense," Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner said after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Eagles in December 2014, per Terry Blount of ESPN.com. "Their offense is kind of predictable. They have a lot of plays where they can only run one way. We were ready for everything they had."

Kelly's offense also puts pressure on his defense, as the fast pace means the offense doesn't stay on the field for long if it doesn't move the chains—and sometimes even if it does. In turn, the defense can be out there for sustained portions of games and be prone to wearing out.

To Kelly's credit, he made adjustments in San Francisco, often slowing down the pace and trying to fit his scheme to his personnel or using the pistol formation to disguise running plays better. The team's issues seemed to be mediocre talent and poor quarterback play in general rather than Kelly's failings.

At the college level—where the spread offense remains in vogue—Kelly should have more success. He'll have the opportunity to turn the Bruins into a powerhouse and resurrect his reputation.

Kelly's return to the Pac-12 will make UCLA's future matchups against Oregon all the more interesting as well. But he'll also have the task of rebuilding a football program that has long lived in the shadow of its counterpart at USC and the Bruins basketball program.

Jim Mora couldn't accomplish the feat in six seasons from 2012 to 2017, though he did lead the team to consecutive 10-3 marks in 2013-14.

Kelly will institute his high-octane, spread-option attack with UCLA, giving the Bruins a new identity as they look to become a Pac-12 power.

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