UCLA announced Sunday that it had fired coach Jim Mora and handed the reins to offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch on an interim basis.
Nebraska is “likely” to have its own coaching search on its hands soon, according to an SB Nation report. Nebraska entered its season finale against Iowa with a 4-7 record and its top recruit no longer committed. Alumnus Scott Frost, one of the hottest names in coaching, emerged as a rumored candidate to replace Mike Riley earlier this season, and recent reports from Bleacher Report’s Lars Anderson, SB Nation and ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg have linked Frost and Nebraska.
But UCLA firing Jim Mora this early could throw a wrench into that.
Some of this is speculation on my part, but follow me here.
The Bruins already have tabbed Chip Kelly as a top target to replace Mora, according to BruinReportOnline, which reports Kelly’s agent “is apparently flying into Los Angeles to meet with UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and Associate Athletic Director Josh Rebholz.” SB Nation additionally reports that Kelly “talked with Florida, is also known to be eyeing West Coast jobs, and is interested in UCLA.”
Friday, ESPN reported Kelly is not likely to end up at Florida, and the Gators are targeting Frost.
Discussions about Kelly, the former Oregon coach, bringing his high-octane offense back to the college game, have taken over the internet. Kelly-to-Florida has been a hot topic in the last week, with Florida’s athletic director tweeting a selfie at one point to prove he was not with Kelly. But Kelly, now an ESPN commentator since one underwhelming season coaching the San Francisco 49ers, has stayed relatively silent rather than shooting down any of the reports.
Reports have since connected Kelly and Florida further, with UF players all tweeting the “thinking man” emoji and sending the internet into a daze.
Frost is also a top candidate at Florida, per the SB Nation report on Sunday:
The Gators want Frost. But Florida is worried about the Heartland native’s ability to build out a staff of SEC recruiters, and the Gators are wary of him bringing his entire UCF staff with him to Gainesville. If Frost were to take the job, Florida would want to include current interim Randy Shannon and perhaps other current Gators on the defensive staff.
Chip Kelly going to UCLA could mean Scott Frost gets a little more attention from the Gators.
If Chip Kelly to UCLA happens quick, that would disrupt Nebraska’s ideal coaching timeline
A perfect Nebraska timeline probably proceeds something like this:
- Nebraska releases statement parting ways with Mike Riley on Saturday following its Friday game against Iowa.
- Nebraska reaches out to Frost, who says he would love to return to Lincoln and coach his alma mater.
- Nebraska releases statement saying it has hired Frost, holds press conference, says it found its “No. 1 candidate.” Unlike some teams, the Huskers will honestly mean it.
Kelly being ruled out at Florida means Frost should get a harder look from the Gators. Having lost one prime candidate, Florida could push hard for Frost. The Central Florida coach would be a home run for Nebraska, but that’s partly because Frost is high-profile enough to get looks for just about any big job. It’s possible Florida disrupts Nebraska’s perfect timeline and offers Frost more money, a much easier recruiting situation and a program that won its most recent national title in 2008, not 1997.
That could be hard to ignore and result in Nebraska having to pursue its backup plan.
Still, coaching searches can be wildly unpredictable, so it’s still possible:
A. Chip Kelly doesn’t go to UCLA and picks another job, or doesn’t return to college coaching this time around.
B. Scott Frost doesn’t go to Florida or Nebraska.
C. Nebraska identifies another coach it wants.
We’ll all just have to wait and see.