Would UCLA Football Go From Chip Kelly To Pete Carroll?

Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

With rumors of Chip Kelly’s return to the NFL as an offensive coordinator seemingly gaining momentum, as a potential package deal with Dan Quinn to the Seattle Seahawks, who should the UCLA Football program turn to in their head coaching search if the smoke turns to fire?

Why Chip Kelly Leaving UCLA Football Makes Sense

While Kelly stands to make $6.1M next season with the Bruins, the combination of his recruiting and fundraising apathy, coupled with declining Rose Bowl attendance (47,951 in 2023), along with a steep schedule strength increase in 2024 courtesy of the Bruins move to the Big-10, combined with his buyout evaporating in December, make next season resemble awfully close to a lame duck one.

Related: Highest-Paid College Football Coaches

In the NFL, Kelly would probably make about $2M per season but most likely be granted 2-3 seasons to re-prove his play-calling chops at the professional level, thereby breaking even financially with either option.

The benefit of an NFL OC job is he doesn’t have to incessantly worry about cultivating personal relationships with players, alumni, and boosters, all the elements he seemingly dreads, and rather simply retreat to his essence of thinker, student, play-caller, and tactician.

Why Pete Carroll Coming Makes Sense

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks | Pete Carroll Potential Fit For UCLA Football
Dec 18, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll stands on the sideline during the third quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Given we are entering the final week of January, the Bruins options for a replacement are limited, being six weeks removed from prime coach hiring season. Likely, they would need to approach the 2024 season as a one-year “coaching pilot” and depending on the outcome, choose to go in another direction for 2025 or provide a longer-term extension. Those parameters of availability, fluidity, and curiosity lend themselves to four names in particular: David Shaw, Rick Neuheisel, Brandon Staley, and Pete Carroll. While Shaw is the sensible choice and Neuheisel the safe one, Carroll would undoubtedly be the splashiest. 

We know Pete Carroll is “amped with a lot of juice left” to coach, his exit interview with the Seahawks being exhibit A-Z. The NFL is where his heart lies, but it doesn’t seem like the NFL loves him back in the same way after having won only a single playoff game in his final seven seasons with the Seahawks, after garnering nine such triumphs in his first seven years in Seattle, including the 2013 Super Bowl.

Carroll also doesn’t seem like someone who would excitedly serve as a Director of Fundraising at USC, for instance. His restlessness to be in the center of the sport for one, and his consciously calculated distance away from the USC Trojans since his 2010 departure being the other.

Carroll has a Manhattan Beach residence and what greater bookend to a storybook career that includes being one of only three men in the modern era to win a national title and Super Bowl, than to return home and revive UCLA beginning in 2024 with the same enthusiasm, swagger, and effectiveness as he did the Men of Troy upon his arrival in 2001?

Bruin fans may have biases and reservations about Carroll’s character or allegiance to their bitter cross-town rival, but there’s no denying he would be the PERFECT antidote to UCLA football’s problems. Recruiting? Check. Fundraising? You bet. Excitement? No doubt.

Stranger things have happened than a Los Angeles college football Re-Pete.