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UCLA Football: Bruins DB Coach Paul Rhoads Leaves Westwood to Become Arizona DC

On Wednesday, Chip Kelly said that he anticipated no changes to his coaching staff. Two days later, Kelly is now looking for a new defensive backs coach.

Oregon State v. UCLA
UCLA defensive backs coach is headed to Tucson to be the new defensive coordinator for the Wildcats.

The Early Signing Period closed yesterday. Meanwhile, in Tucson, the Arizona Wildcats announced that they have hired UCLA Bruins defensive backs coach Paul Rhoads as their next defensive coordinator.

Of course, Rhoads was one of two defensive coaches I’ve said deserved to be fired after the performance of the Bruin defense this season. The other one, of course, is defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro.

UCLA’s pass defense was the worst in the country this season, yet, somehow, Kevin Sumlin determined that Rhoads is the best way for him to keep his job beyond next season. Good luck with that, Kevin.

But the Wildcats’ gain is UCLA’s loss. So, now, Chip Kelly will have the opportunity to start remaking his defensive staff. There’s been a lot of chatter about Azzinaro remaining on the Bruin staff as a position coach instead of as the defensive coordinator.

This could allow for that. On one hand, Kelly could slot Azzinaro in as the new DB coach, but that doesn’t seem to be the best option for Kelly. Assuming for a moment that all other coaches are retained, the most likely scenario could involve moving Azzinaro to defensive line coach since he’s never coached the secondary before.

Moving Azzinaro to the defensive line would mean that Vincent Oghobaase, the Bruins’ current defensive line coach would also switch positions. Having been a defensive lineman when he played, it might be easier to move him to inside linebackers and shifting Don Pellum to defensive backs coach. At least, he spent a season coaching safeties while he was at Oregon.

Of course, Rhoads and Sumlin have positions to fill on the defensive staff in Tucson. Former UCLA DBs coach Demetrice Martin was the only remaining defensive coach who started the season with the Cats still on the Arizona staff at the end of the season as Sumlin fired his DC, DL and LB coaches while trying to salvage the season and his job. While he didn’t save the season, he did save his job.

That might not happen next season when the Wildcat defensive backs start lining up 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage when the opposing team is facing a third-and-five.

According to Arizona Desert Swarm, Paul Rhoads said yesterday that his defensive staff “will be a staff of great teachers.” So, maybe Rhoads will grab another current UCLA assistant or two to help make Chip Kelly’s defensive makeover a little bit easier because we know how much Kelly has spoken about his staff being teachers. And, we all know how Kelly believes his “staff’s done a good job considering what we have right now.”

Hopefully, Rhoads’ departure is the first of several on the defensive side of the ball.

Go Bruins!!!