Martin Jarmond’s Moment Of Truth: How Will UCLA’s Athletic Director Handle The Future Of Bruins Football?

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With Chip Kelly’s jaw-dropping voluntary departure and demotion from the head coach of Bruins football to offensive coordinator of Ohio State Martin Jarmond is officially on the clock for the first time in his tenure as UCLA Athletic Director. Both Kelly and Mick Cronin were Dan Guerrero hires and since 2020, Jarmond has had the luxury to primarily focus on public relations with Guerrero’s skin in the game. That now changes as the fate of the UCLA football program is squarely in his hands after a dysfunctional offseason and the not-so-quiet whispers of his long-term commitment to Westwood.

Jarmond is deeply engaging, charismatic, and courageous, as evidenced by his seminal role in UCLA’s departure to the Big-10 and he’s already proclaimed the Bruins next signal caller will take a CEO approach to this program exhibiting talents encompassing on-field tactics, player reliability, and development, as well as an enthusiasm for embracing the modern parameters of college football. Who Jarmond selects will be insightful into his values, priorities, and instincts in a manner not yet obvious to Bruin faithful. Ultimately, he can go in three directions: stability, splash, or specificity.

Bruins Football Can Go In 3 Directions:

NCAA Football: Stanford at Utah
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Stability

If Jarmond prioritizes long-term stability as the prerequisite for program success given UCLA’s unique academic, social, and political landscape, a few candidates come to mind.

The first being David Shaw, who led academic powerhouse Stanford to a 96-54 record, five 10+ win seasons, four to-10 finishes, and two Rose Bowl titles. There is perhaps no other candidate more equipped to handle football excellence within a university that prioritizes so many other elements. The fact his son, Carter, is an incoming sophomore wide receiver for Bruins football makes this even more enticing.

Furthermore, if stability is the name of the game, Jarmond could turn to DeShaun Foster or Jerry Neuheisel, two high-potential candidates on the current staff who have bled Bruin blue and gold as players and could mature into extreme long-term success. Foster has transformed Joshua Kelly, Brittain Brown, Demetric Felton, and Zach Charbonnet into bona fide NFL running backs.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals
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Splash

If Jarmond is looking to infuse the program with a jolt of electricity for a fanbase slowing growing in apathy by the day, then Pete Carroll warrants serious consideration. The 72-year-old is one of only three men in the modern era to win both a national championship and Super Bowl. Furthermore, Carroll’s nine-year run at crosstown rival USC was generationally dynastic culminating in seven consecutive top-four finishes including two national championships and three Heisman Trophy winners.

It’s obvious Carroll wants to return to coaching and with the NFL having just recently jilted him, there may not be a more glorious final act for the legendary coach than to resurrect Bruins football after doing the same for the Trojans 20 years earlier.

The crosstown rivalry would also reach an inferno level of hype if Jarmond were able to poach D’Anton Lynn back from USC. After all, Lynn transformed UCLA’s defense to top-10 status after years of middling in the bottom quartet of college football. He recently spurned the Bruins for the Trojans, thanks to a $1M raise. If Jarmond took Lynn back, it would be a signal to USC, the Big-10, and college football that UCLA strategically attacking with swagger.    

NCAA Football: Outback Bowl-Minnesota vs Auburn
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Specificity 

If Jarmond wants to emphasize domain knowledge of the Big-10 and Midwest given the Bruins new conference home, then he would zero in on PJ Fleck and Tony White.

Fleck has led Minnesota to a 50-34 record including three 9+ win seasons and a 2019 top-10 finish with an Outback Bowl triumph. He has an immense amount of energy with alumni, boosters, and recruits, while also possessing deep knowledge of how to approach the Big-10 powers of Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Winning at Minnesota is incredibly difficult, but providing Fleck with access to UCLA’s campus, pedigree and potential would create all the ingredients for dynamite performance.

White played at UCLA in the early 2000s and was a Bruins graduate assistant in 2007. He’s just coming off a very successful year in the Big-10 as Nebraska’s defensive coordinator where he led the Cornhuskers to 11th in total defense during his inaugural campaign, a drastic turnaround from the 77th Nebraska was in 2022. White is young, hungry, and an alum with an opportunity to resurrect the Bruins football nation.

Martin Jarmond can’t control the names that are off the board now given the timing of this hire – names such as Jonathan Smith and Jedd Fisch. But what he can control is how personalizes the execution of this decision, and Martin Jarmond is now on the clock…