UCLA Coaching Candidates: Odds For Bruins’ Next Head Coach

UCLA Coaching Candidates: Odds For Bruins’ Next Head Coach
Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Reports have surfaced that UCLA football coach Chip Kelly’s time with the Bruins may soon come to an end. According to a report from 247Sports.com, he could be fired after the weekend should UCLA fall to crosstown rival Southern Cal on Saturday. This is the type of news that could impact how California sports betting participants wager on the team when it becomes legal in the future.

Kelly has been with the Bruins for six seasons, and while he has had quite a turnaround from a 10-21 record during his first three years, UCLA has regressed some this season. After going 9-4 last year, the Bruins stand at just 6-4 now. After being ranked as high as No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25 a month ago, Kelly’s team is now out of the rankings after losing two straight, with the last loss coming at home last Saturday to an Arizona State team that entered the contest with a 2-7 record. The Sun Devils won that game 17-7.

Moreso than the record or the losing streak, the desire for change stems from where UCLA’s program is headed. Next year, the Bruins, along with USC and other Pac-12 rivals Oregon and Washington, will join the Big Ten in what may become the best conference in college football. Facing the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State will make it all that much harder for UCLA to compete. 

It’s been 25 years since the school won a Pac-12 title, and back then, it was still the Pac-10. Since then, eight of the nine Pac-10 members (sorry, Arizona) have at least won a share of a conference title, and even newcomer Utah, which joined in 2011, has won the conference the past two seasons.

UCLA Football Next Head Coach Odds

With Kelly’s departure seemingly likely barring a last-minute turnaround – DraftKings lists the Trojans as a seven-point home favorite on Saturday – BetCalifornia.com wanted to look at possible candidates to replace him. The odds listed below are strictly theoretical and would not be available in any California sportsbook apps for wagering purposes.

Candidate Current Position Odds Percentage
Jonathan Smith Oregon State HC +300 25.0%
Jedd Fisch Arizona HC +600 14.3%
Ryan Grubb Washington OC +900 10.0%
Sean Lewis Colorado OC +900 10.0%
Lane Kiffin Ole Miss HC +1200 7.7%
Matt Campbell Iowa State HC +1200 7.7%
The Field +300 25.0%

About the Candidates

The leading candidate is another current Pac-12 coach. Jonathan Smith has led quite a turnaround for the Beavers. After just nine wins in Corvallis in his first three seasons, Smith, a Pasadena native, has coached his alma mater to three straight winning seasons. Last year’s team went 10-3 and won the school’s first bowl game since 2013. This year’s squad is 8-2 and ranked No. 11 in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings. 

Another Pac-12 coach likely to be strongly considered is Arizona’s Jedd Fisch. The Wildcats are 7-3 and have clinched their first winning record since 2017. Fisch also has connections to the school and area. He was UCLA’s offensive coordinator in 2017 and served as its interim head coach for the final three games that season. He then was an offensive assistant coach with the Los Angeles Rams for two years.

A wild card to consider would be Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin. Kiffin has resurrected his career after being fired from USC midway through the 2013 season. After two 11-win seasons at Florida Atlantic, he took over the Rebels program in 2020 and guided them to a 31-15 record. They’re 8-2 this season, with losses on the road to Alabama and Georgia, and currently No. 13 in the CFP rankings.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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