Reports: Chip Kelly to choose between Florida, UCLA jobs in coming days

By Adam Silverstein
November 22, 2017
Reports: Chip Kelly to choose between Florida, UCLA jobs in coming days

Image Credit: ESPN Images

The Florida Gators‘ coaching search has kicked into high gear over the last week. After a whirlwind Sunday that ended simply enough after a Florida contingent flew to New Hampshire to meet with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, this now officially appears to be a two-team race with the UCLA Bruins for the services of the current ESPN analyst.

Confirming reports from Tuesday night, ESPN‘s Mark Schlabach reported Wednesday that Kelly met with UCLA brass, including athletic department officials, megadonor Casey Wasserman and former Bruins star quarterback Troy Aiman, who is making a considerable push for Kelly to join the program. Sports Illustrated’s Bruce Feldman clarified that the meeting did not take place in Los Angeles, as previously reported.

USA Today‘s George Schroeder reported soon after that Kelly is being offered positions “in the range of $6 million per year” and has turned down interest from Tennessee and possibly Nebraska as well. He also noted that UCLA being an Under Armour school may play into Kelly’s decision as he’s famously close friends with Nike founder and Oregon megadonor Phil Knight. Florida, of course, is a Nike school.

Kelly is expected to make a decision in the coming days with many assuming that will come on Sunday at the end of college football’s regular season.

The Gators were in the air to see Kelly on Sunday when the Bruins job opened after UCLA chose to fire Jim Mora Jr. and pay his massive $12 million buyout. Florida’s position has been open for 24 days after the Gators and former head coach Jim McElwain parted ways.

It stands to reason that Kelly is conflicted over the choice for myriad reasons, including location, prestige, program status and financial commitment.

UCLA finished construction of a $75 million standalone football facility. Florida is in the midst of getting its plans finalized for one with construction likely not beginning for a year or two. The Gators have a history of committing substantial funds to their program, including for assistant coaches, player development etc. The Bruins do not share that history but have publicly said they are planning to change the direction of the program and do just that.

UF has won three national championships and been competitive for the last 40 years, whereas UCLA only has one claimed national title (1954) and has gone decades without even a conference title.

The recruiting grounds are lush in both states, though there is no doubting the level of talent available in the Sunshine State. Gainesville, Florida, is more insulated whereas Los Angeles is a massive star-studded town where Kelly could work somewhat under the radar even in the shadow of big brother USC.

California has a state income tax of 13.3 percent compared to none for Florida, meaning Kelly would lose $780,000 on a $6 million annual deal. (Though when you consider the monies he is continuing to earn from his NFL contracts, that is probably not much of a sticking point.)

Kelly has a decision to make. Gators fans will be waiting with baited breath. And there’s probably another four days to go.


  1. SW Fl Joe says:

    Time to move on. While Frost doesn’t have the experience Kelly does he is a much better fit for the culture at UAA and Gainesville

  2. Ben says:

    If Kelly flew out to meet the officials from U.C.L.A., that is all you need to know…If it is truly a two team race, then I am afraid he is going to choose the Bruins. The other question is which would appeal to him more: The craziness of Southern California, or the college atmosphere of Gainesville? Also, does he want the recruiting challenge in the S.E.C., or the laid back atmosphere of the Pac. 10?

  3. rich says:

    I am really hoping for Chip Kelly but I also hope Scott Frost is a viable option to listen to us if we don’t get Kelly.

    My real concern here is not getting Kelly or Frost.. I know we can still get a real good coach but flirting with Kelly has our fan base very excited and to be honest losing him to UCLA and possibly losing Frost to Nebraska we will see our #3 choice as a major disappointment.

    I’m not saying that it’s fair, and maybe we’re better off in the long run with whomever we finally get to lead the GatorNation Football team but you don’t flirt with Kelly and all his offense and then easily welcome in our #3 option.

    Again, not fair to whomever we get but a let down for sure if that plays out.

    Here’s hoping for Chip Kelly or Scott Frost.

  4. Mike says:

    Sounds like UF chased, Kelly stalled, UCLA called, Kelly went, and the whole deal bumped the numbers up . . . in Kelly’s favor.

    Look for us to be a jilted suitor.

    And, what would we do for a defense if Kelly was coach ? Offense only does not work in the SEC; even Steve’s Fun & Gun had rock-solid defenses to compliment the high-flying offense. Does Kelly do defenses ?

    In the SEC, it’s what successful SEC programs do.


  5. OrangeAndBlueVictorious says:

    Or maybe it’s: UF called, Kelly considered, UCLA unexpectedly called, so Kelly decided to consider that as well. He’s notorious for keeping things close to the vest and taking his time with deliberate decision making. Both of those are very desirable qualities in a head coach, if you ask me.

    Seriously….why does everyone here assume just because he’s hearing someone else out that he’s already made his decision for UCLA? Has nobody interviewed for 2 jobs at a single time? That’s negotiation 101.

    Give me the coach with long-term planning & strategy in mind rather than the guy who jumps at the first shiny opportunity (even if it’s UF). That’s a good indicator of what he could do for the program.

    I hope we come to an agreement soon and looking forward to an announcement on Monday morning.

    Go Gators.

    • Mike says:

      Seems to me that UF either has or is getting a “problem” destination reputation that rivals our “top five” destination reputation, all of which shades top candidates’ decision-making.

      I mean, if they think that, “hey, worst case, I can stick it out for three years, make some millions and bail if it starts to suck too bad,” we will never have any continuity, and will never get out of the middle of the pack again.

      Something about our football culture needs to change quickly, for the good.

      Mike UF Law, 1988

  6. Gene says:

    Oregon ranked 28th, 10th, 33rd, and 22nd in opponent points per play his 4 years as head coach at Oregon.

    More importantly, they went 14, 3, 8, and 1st in scoring margin.

    I hope he’s our next coach.

  7. J.A. says:

    Guys stop panicking. Chip is coming to Florida. The relationship he has with Nike is enough to let us all know that. UCLA is an Under Armour school. Sounds simplistic, but it is true. Plus, guys you gotta remember winning the SEC East is not very difficult. Kelly’s quick no-huddle offense would spread UGA’s defense out and tire them out while picking them apart.

    • GATOR-6 says:

      No panic here, J.A. I really don’t care if he comes or not at this point. He’s shown too much of his character by recent actions. Totally agree c the second half of your post, though.

  8. G2 says:

    Think Kelly is the short term solution to pull us out of this funk. Don’t necessarily think he would stay for 5+ years but definitely the sexy hire.

    What worries me is his west coast past, would he rather live in Westwood or Gville?

  9. Michael Jones says:

    You guys get so easily dazzled at what you perceive as a shiny star. Remind me of the guys who are always chasing a bitchy “10” when the best girl is right there in front of them. Kelly would be a disaster at UF. A mismatch in every sense of the word. Nobody is mentioning the best available coach out there … but I damn sure will: Dan Mullen. Fools.

    • Nobody’s mentioning it? You haven’t read this website and my Twitter account then.

      • Michael L. Jones says:

        Wasn’t referring to you, Adam. I thought in the beginning, back during the Muschamp search and the McElwain search, that you weren’t giving him his due. But I no longer feel that way. I think you have been fair to him this time around . . I think he’s a home run and you think he’s a triple. Fair enough. Reasonable minds can differ, lol.

    • South Bleachers says:

      -AttackGator Nation.
      -Pat yourself on the back.
      -Blabber on about Mullen
      -Rinse, repeat.

      Just like magazines that package the exact same stuff in different ways over and over and over.

      Stick to X’s & O’s Jones because you continually look like a fool on anything other than that.

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