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Sunday Morning Quarterback: UCLA Football’s Coaching Staff Needs an Overhaul

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Changes should be coming...one way or another.

NCAA Football: California at UCLA Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this week’s Sunday Morning Quarterback column is more like Sunday Afternoon Quarterback, due in large part to the fact that I didn’t get home from the Rose Bowl until about 1:30 am.

The other reason it’s running late today is because, frankly, what else needs to be said about the fourth losing season in a row by the UCLA Bruins?

As I wrote last night after the game, last night’s loss was really a mercy killing by UC Berkeley as the Bears helped put Bruin fans everywhere out of their misery until at least next August.

Sure, I could sit here and repeat my call for defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro to be fired. That’s simple to do.

I could call for Kelly’s head, despite the required $9 million buyout.

That’s because, after two terrible seasons, there is no indication that things are going to get any better under Kelly. So, why spend another $4 million next year only to determine that Kelly isn’t the solution to UCLA’s football woes?

The real problem here is the fact that Dan Guerrero has given Bruin fans one last middle finger by sticking around to the end of the school year.

If Guerrero had announced his retirement, effective December 31st. The search committee would potentially be closer than they are at this point to filling the position, which would have allowed a new AD to make a decision as to whether to keep Kelly now.

Instead, the “sound money manager” is going to allow Kelly to stay forcing another year of terrible football on Bruin fans. It’s going to result in another year of terrible attendance at the Rose Bowl. It’s going to mean that UCLA will pay $13.3 million to Kelly over the next 12 months or so, instead of just $9 million. It’s throwing more money after a bad solution.

In economics, the $9 million dollar buyout would be considered a sunk cost because, realistically, no coach ever lasts until the end of his contract. Why spend another $4.3 million, which is what Chip is scheduled to earn next year, for another four wins?

There is, however, a simple solution to this conundrum.

It’s for Dan Guerrero and Josh Rebholz to rely on Clause 7 of the Employment Contract Addendrum. This is the key thing which could result in coaching changes at UCLA for 2020.

That clause reads:

Coach shall have the right to select assistant coaches and support staff, subject to the approval of the Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and University policies.

That clause is the key to making changes happen for next season, one way or another.

If Dan Guerrero refuses to approve the continued employment of Jerry Azzinaro and much of the defensive staff and Chip disagrees, Chip has a choice to make. He can do what his boss requires or he can quit. Either way, needed coaching changes happen.

If Dan is feeling particularly charitable, he can choose to allow Chip to negotiate a less expensive buyout. Given the current state of the program, it would seem that allowing Chip to quit with a $3.5 million buyout would seem fair. That’s what Chip made for coaching the team this season.

This would allow UCLA to move on quickly from Chip and his hermit-like idiosyncracies.

If Chip actually agrees to fire Azzinaro and other defensive coaches, the defense is bound to improve and the Bruins might be finally poised to succeed under Kelly. Then, if Colin Yankoff competes for the starting quarterback job in the spring and he beats out DTR, the Bruins will be improved offensively as well as defensively.

Now, after FootballScoop.com reported that Kelly may be on his way out, Bruin Report Online reported that Chip was on the phone to recruits assuring them that he is not going anywhere.

That brings me to the problem with any and all of these possible scenarios: the new reality of college football recruiting. Two years ago, the recruiting calendar changed when the first Early Signing Period happened. After last season, it was clear that most recruits signed during the Early Signing Period.

So, it’s entirely possible that rather than this situation resolving itself over the next few days, it may not resolve itself until after the Early Signing Period, which begins on December 18th, much in the same way that some coaching changes wouldn’t happen until after National Signing Day in February like when Jeff Ulbricht left Mora’s staff to join the Atlanta Falcons.

So, for now, we are stuck waiting to see what happens and we may not see a resolution to this for a few weeks.


Go Bruins!!