A contingent of UCLA athletics officials met with Chip Kelly on Tuesday as part of the search to replace football coach Jim Mora, a person with knowledge of the situation said on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.
Kelly would represent the kind of big-name hire the Bruins have not historically made. He guided Oregon to three Pac-12 Conference titles and an appearance in the national championship game in 2011 while compiling a 46-7 record in four seasons.
Kelly, 53, reportedly met with Florida officials on Sunday about their coaching vacancy and could be pursued by other schools. Texas A&M is on the verge of firing coach Kevin Sumlin after the Aggies play Louisiana State on Saturday, according to a report in the Houston Chronicle.
UCLA has not made splashy hires with its football program under athletic director Dan Guerrero, selecting former Bruins Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel before bringing in Mora before the 2012 season. The school fired Mora on Sunday after a 28-23 loss to USC dropped his record in the last two seasons to 9-14.
Like Mora, Kelly did not have sustained success in the NFL, going a combined 28-35 in four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. But Kelly's accomplishments in the Pac-12 make him attractive for a school that last won a conference title in 1998.
Kelly's record also includes an 18-month show-cause penalty that he was issued in 2013 after Oregon was placed on probation for three years. The incident involved a $25,000 payment to a recruiting service that had ties to a player the school was pursuing.
UCLA appears better positioned to make an attractive offer to its coaching candidates than in recent years because of the influx of money from lucrative television deals and the record $280-million contract the school signed with Under Armour in 2016. The Bruins also have a deep-pocketed booster in alumnus Casey Wasserman, a major contributor to the $75-million football practice facility that bears his name and part of the school's coaching search committee.
UCLA announced that it paid Mora's buyout of roughly $12 million using funds exclusively generated from within its athletic department.
Multiple other media outlets also reported that Kelly met with UCLA officials.