Chip Kelly picked up his first victory at UCLA today, but today’s win wasn’t on the field. It was at his introductory press conference.
The Pavilion Club inside Pauley Pavilion was packed this afternoon with media, donors, and other Bruin supporters. It was so packed that it led Kelly to initially quip that there must “not be a lot going on in L.A. today.” to laughs from those in attendance.
But, that wasn’t the only thing Kelly said to win over any remaining doubters among Bruin fans.
“There’s something special about this place,” Kelly said referring to UCLA. Kelly continued:
If you’re a coach, the unofficial mentor of probably all coaches is the great John Wooden and I don't care if you coach basketball or if you coach volleyball or if you coach tennis or if you coach football. I think every coach that's ever put on some shoes and grabbed a whistle and got out and tried to educate young men and women have learned from his Pyramid of Success and to be at the same campus where he affected so many people and still affects so many people is really truly an honor. And, when you look at the history and the tradition of football, whether it's Red Sanders or Dick Vermeil who's a great friend of mine and became a real good mentor of mine when I was in Philadelphia to Terry Donahue to Bob Toledo...there's been so many great coaches here. I got an opportunity to go Karl Dorrell and I have great respect for him and I know what he was like as a football player and coach here. Rick Neuheisel, who I talked to through this process, was very instrumental in helping me and I'm making me understand UCLA I have great respect for Jim Mora I coached for one year in the league with Jim and I think the ultimate compliment a coach can make is that Jim Mora is a football guy. I have great respect for Jim. If someone called me a football guy, I’d take that as a compliment and to come here after Jim and continue this journey for UCLA football is a huge honor for me and I'm very grateful for Dan, for Chancellor Block, for Troy, for Casey, and for Josh, for bringing me here and showing me what this place is all about and then hoping that I can take this and grow with it
Wow. There’s no way to better win over the Bruin faithful than to show knowledge and respect for UCLA’s history and Kelly pretty much covered it all right there. Unlike at least one other introductory press conference in the not-too-distant past, Kelly seems to have a firm grasp on what’s important to Bruin fans.
While we are comparing Chip Kelly’s introduction to another coach’s, Kelly deserves credit for taking full responsibility for the situation that occurred at Oregon. In response to Fox 11’s Liz Habib, Kelly said:
I take full responsibility for what happened. It happened under my watch and I'm responsible for that. I've met that Dan. I've met with Matt Bernstein. I’ve met with Jen Vining-Smith in compliance and we have a plan moving forward of how we would recruit, how we're going to move forward, how they will interact with us in relying on them to ask them ‘How does the process work?’ and “How are we doing things?” and “Are we using with these services in right manner?”
Kelly’s introduction was obviously night and day from Steve Alford’s. Kelly didn’t try to blame anyone else by claiming he did what he was told or anything else. He took full responsibility for the mistakes that were made and he outlined how he’s going to try to prevent future mistakes at UCLA.
It’s been said that Kelly doesn’t tend to be particularly comfortable in dealing with the media. Well, he did mention that during his year-long “sabbatical” from coaching, he got out of his comfort zone and became a member of the media. Perhaps, one of the benefits of that time is that he’s now able to be more candid and even funny at times.
Overall, there isn’t a thing Kelly could have done better today to win over any last skeptics.
Here are the full videos from today’s press conference. Unfortunately, the camera split it into two files, but the whole thing is there in the two videos. Watch it and see for yourself.
What are your thoughts about Chip Kelly’s first press conference as coach of the Bruins? Leave them in the comments below.