During this week’s press conferences, Chip Kelly was quick to downplay the loss of tight end Theo Howard, who announced his intent to enter the transfer portal last Thursday.
As the season goes completely sideways, the mid-season departure of Howard is yet only another blow to the program’s ability to build, well, anything positive under Chip Kelly.
When asked about the significance of Howard’s loss on Sunday, Kelly pinned Howard’s leaving the UCLA Bruins on his potential inability to gain admission to a graduate program. He said:
Grad school isn’t guaranteed here. I mean, if Theo wants to take care of himself, then that’s our job to help take care of him, too. It’s just the way of the world right now in college football, so you have to understand that.
When asked if Howard’s transfer could influence other Bruins to jump ship, Kelly remained cool, doubting that one transfer could suddenly kickstart a trend of departures. He said:
I think it’s a unique situation. Like I said, if I was Theo, I would do the same thing. Grad school not being guaranteed, he’s got to cover himself and see what his options are, and that’s our job, too.
Ultimately, it’s unclear whether Howard’s transfer will set off a chain-reaction of transfers from UCLA. Howard wasn’t intent on spending his last days of eligibility in Westwood, and that says something iffy about the culture Chip Kelly is cultivating (or failing to cultivate) there.
After assessing Howard’s status, Kelly was swamped with questions about the program’s dipping APR score, Keyon Riley, and Kelly’s own ability to understand his program’s weaknesses.
Now, it seems that the press has slightly shifted its focus to Chip Kelly’s spotty recruiting personnel-picking acumen, for better or worse.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Chase Cota and Tyler Manoa spoke to staying focused following a bye week, as well as to staying positive after a string of losses. Manoa said:
It sucks to lose, as you can tell, but as a group, When things go wrong, we come together even stronger as a group, and I agree with that 100 percent.”
Then, on Monday, Rayshad Williams and Boss Tagaloa looked ahead to the Bruins’ Thursday night matchup against the Stanford Cardinal, who the Bruins haven’t beaten since 2008.
At this point, all we can really hope for is that these players can rally around each other for an upset in Palo Alto.
Thanks to UCLA Athletics for this week’s videos!