April 16, 2024

In his first attempt to explain his self-imposed demotion, Chip Kelly said he’s never thought about quitting anything.

That’s funny considering he was quiet quitting for most of his six seasons at UCLA.

He put in a minimal effort in recruiting. Barely engaged boosters. Did next to nothing to enhance his team’s name, image and likeness efforts.

Let that sink in. The highest-paid state employee in California did not want to do his job, so he left.

Some have painted him as an offensive savant with a few quirks. Given what he said Tuesday in his first remarks in his new post, he’s an oddball who lacks honor.

Kelly said the jarring move from Bruins head coach to Ohio State’s offensive coordinator was rooted in a return to pure coaching. Well, he stunk in that department as well. Take out the wins over two Football Championship Subdivision teams and Kelly would have posted a losing record.

He never came close to winning a Pac-12 championship. His high point was winning the L.A. Bowl. His final record was 35-34. His teams were such a dud with fans that the Bruins posted their three lowest average home attendance figures in their four-plus decades at the Rose Bowl.

Kelly said coaching the Bruins quarterbacks in that December bowl game led to a realization that he wanted to get back to the essence of football.

“I think my wife remarked, she’s like, ‘I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time,’” Kelly told reporters at his introductory news conference in Columbus, Ohio.

UCLA coach Chip Kelly, crouching on the sideline, reacts to a play during the L.A. Bowl against Boise State.

Then-UCLA coach Chip Kelly reacts to a play on the field during the Bruins’ L.A. Bowl game against Boise State on Dec. 16 at SoFi Stadium.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

How about Ethan Young? How is he feeling? The Bruins’ onetime director of player personnel is among the UCLA football staffers seeking a new job after their boss left town without warning except for his repeated (and failed) efforts to land an NFL job.

Kelly is free to do what he wants, but he should have left the day after the bowl game if he realized he was unhappy. That would have allowed his staff not retained by new UCLA coach DeShaun Foster to seek new jobs when there were far more openings than there are on the eve of spring practice.

Saying he had no regrets about his departure because he was able to tell his players he was leaving before they read about it online — say what? — Kelly provided an equally nonsensical answer about his reasoning.

“I wasn’t leaving to take a head coaching job somewhere else, I wasn’t thinking that the grass was greener at another university,” Kelly said. “It was just, in my personal situation, this is what I wanted to do.”

He’s right, he wasn’t taking a head coaching job, he was taking a step down. And his comments about the grass not being greener at Ohio State are absurd given he spent much of his time with reporters lavishing praise on a program that annually competes for a spot in the College Football Playoff semifinals as opposed to one that runs a firm No. 2 in Los Angeles.

“It would have taken a special place for me to leave UCLA because I love those players and I love that coaching staff,” Kelly said after leaving those players and coaches in limbo to reunite with longtime pal Ryan Day. “To be here with Ryan, I’ve had a great relationship, I’ve known Ryan since he was a little kid. I think a lot of things just fell into place that way.”

Dismissing the idea that he was moving on because he didn’t want to schmooze with boosters, Kelly compared college head coaches to corporate CEOs who must run all aspects of their organization.

“I can’t tell you how many coaches that have called me since I made this decision,” Kelly said, “who have said, ‘I’m two years behind you, brother’ that are thinking the exact same way.”

Hopefully, they’ll have the decency to leave at a time when they don’t put an entire athletic department in a fourth-and-25 bind.

As part of his justification for the move, Kelly cited John Lennon frustrating a teacher who asked the future Beatles icon what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“He said, ‘I want to be happy,’” Kelly said. “And then his teacher said, ‘I don’t think you understand the assignment.’ And [Lennon’s] mom said, ‘I don’t think you understand life.’ So, I just wanted to be happy.”

In doing so, when it comes to integrity, Kelly showed himself to be a real nowhere man.

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