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SMQB: Chip Kelly's Record at UCLA Slips Back to Just .500
After five and a half long seasons, shouldn't Kelly have a winning record by now?
After last night’s loss to Oregon State, we’re now midway through the 2023 season. So, now feels like a good time to assess where UCLA football is at this point.
A quick look at the Pac-12 standings show that the Bruins are now tied with Washington State for seventh in the conference. The good news is that the toughest part of the Bruins schedule now looks to be behind them. In fact, four of UCLA’s remaining six opponents sit below the Bruins in the Pac-12 standings this morning.
Of course, that doesn’t mean much of anything, especially after watching Colorado lost to Stanford in double OT on Friday night. Realistically, UCLA should probably be able to win five of the six games. Though after watching last night’s game, I think there’s a chance that they could win as few as two more.
Now also seems like a good time to apologize to our readers for last week’s SMQB.
I violated one of our mantras here: Never accept in a win, what we would not accept in a loss.
After last week, I excused Dante Moore’s poor play against the Cougars as “growing pains.” Yesterday’s game convinced me that I was wrong.
Frankly, there is no excuse for leaving a quarterback in who threw three first half interceptions which led to 17 points. Period.
In fact, I was relieved when Moore was replaced by Collin Schlee, but then Kelly went right back to Moore after a few plays. Really, Chip?
At least Cleveland Browns head coach Jim Schwartz realized that starting a rookie quarterback who threw three interceptions is not the smartest move and activated PJ Walker from the team’s practice squad, relegating DTR back to the bench. That’s something Chip Kelly would never consider and it’s why Kelly won’t start either Schlee or Garbers next week against Stanford, despite still listing Moore, Garbers and Schlee as “OR” on the UCLA depth chart.
But he should.
The loss drops Chip Kelly’s record in Westwood back to .500 at 31-31. With six games left in this season, it’s reasonable to suggest that if Kelly is below .500 at season’s end, his days in Westwood may be numbered. In fact, a good argument could be made that if Kelly can’t finish the season with at least an 8-4 record, he probably shouldn’t be retained.
Of course, the biggest potential problem may be the fact that the contract extension which UCLA gave Kelly after last season added a buyout back in after his previous contract’s buyout had gone away. Kelly will be owed $8.5 million if he’s fired before December 2023 and $4.27 million if he’s dismissed before December 2024, as was reported by Ben Bolch of the LA Times in March.
The argument can no longer be made that Kelly needs more time. This is his sixth season at the helm in Westwood and it’s been an unremarkable tenure, which has underachieved the expectations of most Bruin fans at this point.
One of the worst aspects of Kelly’s tenure is the fact that Rose Bowl attendance has absolutely cratered under Chip. Attendance for last week’s game against Washington State, a Top 25 opponent, was just 35,437. UCLA actually drew more fans for North Carolina Central two weeks before when the crowd totaled 38,343 and that crowd was smaller than the Coastal Carolina game which started the season with 43,705.
It will certainly be interesting to see how big the crowd is when the circus that is Coach Prime and the Colorado Buffaloes come to town in two weeks.