Chip Kelly had high praise for the fans of UCLA’s opponent this weekend.
On Saturday, Kelly and his Bruins head up to Eugene for a game against a school the UCLA head coach knows well. Kelly, who spent six seasons at Oregon (four as the head coach), will return to Autzen Stadium for a Pac-12 game.
Ahead of the matchup, Kelly was extremely complimentary of Oregon’s fans, calling them a “very educated crowd” and “unbelievable.”
Chip Kelly on Autzen Stadium: "I think they’ve got probably the best home advantage because of the crowd and the setting and the stadium and how loud they can make it. A very educated crowd—know when to cheer and not to cheer. …That crowd’s unbelievable up there."
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) October 29, 2018
Kelly is certainly familiar with the crowd there. They supported him as he led the Ducks to a 46-7 record during his time at Oregon. However, this weekend, they will be against him as the Bruins look for just their third win of the season.
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has one way to avoid discussing the uncomfortable topic of his father’s critical tweets, and that is to say he didn’t even see them.
The father of the Bruin freshman recently posted a series of critical tweets about head coach Chip Kelly, calling him a “fluke” and essentially blaming him and his playcalls for his son’s shaky performances under center. Kelly has more or less shrugged them off, but Thompson-Robinson told reporters after Friday night’s loss that he had never seen the tweets to begin with.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson said he wasn’t on his phone the last two weeks and didn’t see his dad’s tweets.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) September 29, 2018
Perhaps Thompson-Robinson is being truthful here, but given that his father’s tweets have been a fairly big story, it’s somewhat hard to believe the quarterback wasn’t at least aware of them. Either way, it’s another distracting sideplot in an 0-4 season that is quickly going south.
If Chip Kelly was bothered by the criticism he faced from the father of UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, he certainly did not show it.
Kelly was asked on Tuesday about the criticism from DTR’s father and said he had “no response,” while adding that everyone is entitled to an opinion.
“I have no response. I mean, everybody’s entitled to their opinion; that’s what’s the great thing about sports. When you win, people say good things and when you don’t win, people don’t say good things. That’s life, you know?” Kelly said, via the Los Angeles Times’ Ben Bolch.
Kelly was also asked whether the comments put Dorian in a tough spot. He said that was a question for the quarterback to answer, and added that he enjoys coaching the QB.
Chip Kelly, asked if DTR's father's comments put QB in tough spot: "That’s a question you should ask Dorian. I don’t speak for other people. I love Dorian; Dorian’s awesome to coach. If he makes a mistake, it’s a one-time mistake. I’ve said that about 100 times about him so far."
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) September 18, 2018
Kelly is in his first season as UCLA’s head coach, and the season has gone terribly. The team is 0-3 and in danger of experiencing one of the worst seasons in school history. Graduate transfer quarterback Wilton Speight suffered a back injury in the opener against Cincinnati, leading UCLA to go with Thompson-Robinson, a true freshman.
Thompson-Robinson, who was a highly-ranked recruit coming out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, has served as the Bruins’ quarterback since Speight got hurt, and he has not performed well. He has completed 54.7 percent of his passes for 522 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while rushing for 21 yards. Thompson-Robinson has struggled with his accuracy and command of the offense and has looked very much like an inexperienced true freshman.
After the Bruins got blasted 38-14 at home by Fresno State, a game in which DTR completed just 10 of 24 passes and was even off the mark on some of the passes he did complete, his father criticized Kelly via Twitter.
He is speaking on and about the factual… It is all about the coaching, lousy coaching and play calling… Coaching that is so bad that it demands closed practices… Million dollar coach who bares no responsibility… Just random observations from a frustrated dad!
— Michael Robinson (@DoriansDAD) September 17, 2018
Look, coach Kelly, if you wish to call him this is 4 and 26 for his last offensively called football games… Dorian has only played in 3 of the last 30 games… Can you say duped!
— Michael Robinson (@DoriansDAD) September 17, 2018
His years at Oregon was simply a fluke on his part… I am sure that he stood on the shoulders of the actual player callers… Random thoughts, outside looking in, closed practices…
— Michael Robinson (@DoriansDAD) September 17, 2018
Yes, that’s Robinson calling Kelly’s time at Oregon a “fluke,” even though Kelly was 46-7 over four seasons and went to four straight BCS games there. That is consistent top-notch performance and very much the opposite of a fluke. As for the “duped” claim, Thompson-Robinson was recruited by previous Bruins coach Jim Mora, but stood by his commitment to the school even after the change to Kelly.
Robinson should realize how lucky his son is to have an opportunity to start as a true freshman for a major program and to play for such an accomplished coach. The tweets come across as nothing more than the selfish, bitter rantings of a frustrated father who is blaming the coach for everything and not assigning any responsibility to his son, who has not played well.
Robinson is doing himself and his son no favors with his comments. If he’s trying to follow in LaVar Ball’s footsteps, he should rethink his strategy.
UCLA coach Chip Kelly is waiting to name a starting quarterback going forward.
Kelly said Monday that he’s waiting to see who practices best ahead of the Bruins’ game against Fresno State, with Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Wilton Speight in contention.
Chip Kelly said he needs to see who practices this week before naming a starting quarterback against Fresno State. When I asked him if there was any temptation to to just grow with Dorian Thompson-Robinson going forward, he said, "Nope. Our temptation is to beat Fresno."
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) September 10, 2018
Speight was named the starter prior to the season, but was knocked out of the season opener with a back injury and hasn’t played since. He’s apparently healthy enough to merit consideration to start, but Thompson-Robinson hasn’t been awful, throwing for 254 yards and a touchdown in a loss at Oklahoma. Kelly wants to assess both before deciding who will face Fresno State in what he hopes will be his first win as Bruins coach.
- Chip Kelly
Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray carved up the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, leaving coach Chip Kelly rather frustrated.
No, Kelly wasn’t frustrated with his defense. He was more annoyed with Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane, whom he jokingly felt should have done more to convince Murray to start his baseball career a year early.
Chip Kelly: The only person I'm disappointed in is Billy Beane, I wish he would have given (Kyler Murray) more money. Maybe he wouldn't have come back. #Sooners
— George Stoia III (@GeorgeStoia) September 8, 2018
Murray went 19-of-33 against the Bruins, throwing for 306 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. He has already signed with the A’s, but with the understanding that he’d play a year of football before embarking on his professional baseball career. Kelly can only wish Murray had made the jump immediately given what he saw from him on Saturday.
Chip Kelly doomed himself in his UCLA debut on Saturday night with an awful decision late in the Bruins’ season-opening game.
Kelly’s Bruins were trailing Cincinnati 19-17 with just under six minutes remaining in the game and faced a 4th-and-1 decision from their 36. The offense had been struggling and hadn’t produced points in their previous five possessions, one of which included a safety. On the other hand, the defense had been stellar and hadn’t allowed any points all half, forcing multiple three-and-outs.
The decision to punt and swing field position to set up an easier drive for the Bruins the next time, where they’d only need a field goal to take the lead, made all the sense in the world. Instead, Kelly decided to go for it. The offense lined up in a shotgun formation and tried to throw for the first down even though true freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson was showing accuracy issues and the receivers were dropping passes.
Thompson-Robinson was unable to connect with his receiver, and the Bruins turned the ball over on downs.
UCLA might have had a chance to get the ball back and still win the game, but another problem plagued them.
Not only did Cincinnati boldly convert a 4th-and-2 from the UCLA 12 to kill more clock, but they converted another 4th down later in the drive. Just when Cincinnati was going to take a field goal to go up 22-17 with 1:47 left, the Bruins were penalized for having 12 men on the field. The penalty brought Cincinnati from 4th and goal at the 2 to 4th and goal at the 1, and this time they went for it. They scored a touchdown to put them up 26-17, giving them a two-possession lead.
Kelly is known for being a bold coach who takes chances. That’s something he did earlier in the second half by going for it on a 4th down closer to midfield. That chance made sense. But there was very little sense in taking the risk in the second 4th down situation when the offense had been so bad and the defense had been playing so well. Punting, trusting the defense, and getting better field position would have likely given the Bruins a much better chance of winning the game.
Chip Kelly’s rise to fame in the coaching world was a rather rapid one, and there were apparently times when he did not know how to handle it. That may have contributed to a contentious relationship he had with the boosters who supported the Oregon football program when Kelly was there.
In his latest installment of a three-part feature on Kelly, Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times spoke with author Mark Saltveit, who has followed Kelly closely and written books about him. According to Saltveit, boosters at Oregon despised Kelly and wanted him fired even after the unprecedented success he had with the program.
“The majority of boosters hated Chip; they were trying to get him fired when he was 46-7,” Saltveit said. “And you know the history of the Ducks; they went entire decades where they didn’t have 46 wins, so a guy who finished top five in the nation every year he was there and they’re trying to get him fired?”
Kelly is said to have scaled back his appearances with boosters as he became more successful with the Ducks. Saltveit said he angered some big donors by refusing to make the two-hour drive from Eugene to Portland for public appearances, and some have wondered if he chose UCLA over a program like Florida because there wouldn’t be as much demand from fans and boosters.
Mike Bellotti, who worked with Kelly for three years at Oregon first as the head coach above him and then as athletic director, doesn’t think that was a factor in Kelly’s decision.
“I don’t think you have to do that anywhere less than anywhere else,” Bellotti said. “I don’t think UCLA boosters, Florida boosters, Oregon boosters, Texas A&M boosters — you’ve got to be available to them on the basis of whatever you decide and you set up or your president, athletic director or board of regents tells you, ‘Hey, there’s certain things you need to do and certain things we’ll figure out how to do.'”
For whatever reason, Kelly’s personality rubs some people the wrong way. We’ve seen that with the way some of his former NFL players have blasted him over the years, but there’s no denying his track record of success at the college level. If UCLA can contend for national championships under Kelly, they’ll find a way to handle any boosters he might annoy.