UCLA hires DeShaun Foster as its football coach, replacing Chip Kelly

UCLA went with a familiar, beloved name in selecting its next football coach. The Bruins have hired DeShaun Foster.

The former star running back for the school who appeared in its last Rose Bowl game will replace Chip Kelly, the school announced Monday after completing a warp-speed search that lasted less than 72 hours and included 11 interviews and correspondence with more than 20 potential candidates.

While galvanizing a large swath of the fanbase, not to mention current players loyal to Foster as the team’s longtime running backs coach, the move comes with considerable risk. It will give UCLA the least experienced head coach in the Big Ten as it transitions into the conference in August and is reminiscent of the school’s hiring of Karl Dorrell more than two decades ago.

Like Dorrell, who was hired by UCLA in 2003 at a time when he was the Denver Broncos wide receivers coach, the 44-year-old Foster has worked only as a position coach and never called plays. Dorrell went on to coach for five largely uninspiring seasons before his dismissal.

UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond cited Foster’s integrity, energy, passion and ability to develop players in making a decision that will likely save the Bruins considerable money because it will allow them to largely keep their current coaching staff intact rather than pay buyouts as part of a complete overhaul.

Foster will need to hire an offensive coordinator in addition to a tight ends coach and running backs coach after Foster vacated that role to take the same post with the Las Vegas Raiders before running a reverse back to his alma mater.

“This is a dream come true,” Foster said in a statement. “I always envisioned being a Bruin ever since I was young, and now being the head coach at my alma mater is such a surreal feeling, and I’m grateful for this opportunity. The foundation of this program will be built on discipline, respect and enthusiasm. These are phenomenal young men, and I’m excited to hit the ground running.”

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