UCLA Bruins Offensive Coordinator Candidates: Should Bruins Go With Youth Or Experience? 

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DeShaun Foster’s first item of major business is selecting a UCLA Bruins offensive coordinator to captain a unit led by a host or returning talent, including Ethan Garbers, TJ Harden, J. Michael Sturdivant, and Kyle Ford.

There are several possibilities on the chess board Foster can pursue. Still, it existentially becomes a question of whether he wants youth to reinforce the fresh energy he’s bringing to the UCLA Football program, or whether he wants to balance his strengths with the wisdom that comes from experience.

UCLA Bruins Offensive Coordinator Candidates: Youth Movement

NCAA Football: South Alabama at UCLA
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If a youth movement is what Foster seeks, he can roll the dice on the Bruin passion and soul of Jerry Neuheisel like the chance Athletic Director Martin Jarmond took on him.

Or he could reach out to Ben Arbuckle, the offensive coordinator at Washington State who led the Cougars and Cam Ward to a top-10 offensive finish in 2023 after he led Western Kentucky to the top-ranked offense in college football in 2022.

Perhaps Foster could call Eric Morris, the offensive coordinator at North Texas in 2023 that was an encore to architecting Ward’s breakout season in 2022 at WSU – both teams finished in the top-10 offensively, culminating six top-10 offenses in the past 10 years for the 38-year-old. Morris also has the distinction of being the offensive coordinator at Texas Tech when some guy named Patrick Mahomes was slinging the rock as a Red Raider. 

Foster could shoot the flare gun to UNLV offensive coordinator and former Texas passing game coordinator Brennan Marion, who transformed Jayden Maiava into the conference’s Freshman of the Year with so much flash, that it caught the eye of the ultimate quarterback whisperer in Lincoln Riley to lure Maiava to the Men of Troy.

Then there’s always Tommy Rees, who wasn’t positioned to be the man in charge in Westwood, but whose offensive coordinator pedigree at Notre Dame and Alabama, coupled with his UCLA lineage, could be worth taking a gamble on as OC. He was just hired by the Cleveland Browns a few weeks ago as their Pass Game Specialist and Tight Ends Coach, but earning the official OC role for the UCLA Bruins would be enticing.

UCLA Bruins Offensive Coordinator Candidates: Veteran Experience

However, if experience is what Foster desires, in order to smoothen out his current blind spots, then there is a litany of intriguing candidates. We’ll begin with Eric Bieniemy, who coached UCLA Bruins’ running backs from 2003-2005 including the legendary Maurice Jones-Drew. For 10 seasons, Bieniemy was part of the NFL’s latest dynasty in the Kansas City Chiefs, with the final five of those campaigns as offensive coordinator under the incomparable Andy Reid and in service of the transcendent Mahomes. Bieneimy’s brand affiliation would give him instant credibility in recruiting and definitive respect in the locker room.

If Foster is seeking more direct mentorship from his OC, then David Shaw would be a phenomenal selection. Shaw went 96-54 with Stanford including four top-10 finishes, two Rose Bowl victories, and was a first-hand witness to Christian McCaffrey, perhaps the most dynamic college football player of the past decade. Shaw’s enormous head coaching success at a university even more academically challenging than UCLA could prove invaluable. 

The primary thorn in Shaw’s side during the 2010s in the PAC-12 was Mark Helfrich, another very viable candidate. Helfrich’s 37-16 record at the offensively blurry Oregon including a national runner-up finish in 2014, coupled with the shared experience of working under Chip Kelly could provide a unique relatability to UCLA Football and DeShaun Foster.

Furthermore, if specific Big-10 coaching chops are what Foster values then Scott Frost could be a stable pick. Despite his 16-31 record at Nebraska, Frost has a deep familiarity with the Midwest and he also led Central Florida to their version of a “national title” in 2017 en route to a 13-0 record.

Finally, Paul Chryst went 67-26 at Wisconsin, including two top-10 finishes and New Year’s Six Bowl victories. Chryst’s emphasis on power running could be a seamless transition in direct alignment with Foster’s disciplined vision. 

A lot of choices indeed, what do you think Coach DeShaun should do?