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Take Two: Can Chip Kelly turn UCLA into a contender?

Chip Kelly
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Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

MORE TAKE TWO: Will Alabama back its way into CFB Playoff? | Wisconsin recruiting


There is no question UCLA hiring Chip Kelly was a monumental move for the Bruins and years down the road could turn out to be one of the best coaching hires in recent memory.

But it might not be easy for Kelly and UCLA, and there’s no guarantee the Bruins will immediately shoot to Pac-12 elite status.

Roadblock No. 1: USC. The Trojans have recruited so well in years past and basically can pick and choose the top prospects, especially from the Los Angeles area, that go to play for them. Heading to the Pac-12 championship game Friday night, USC continues to do well and many top kids have always dreamed of playing there. Top recruits talk about being the next Reggie Bush or Matt Leinart. That’s a tough hurdle to overcome.

Roadblock No. 2: The conference is not getting any easier. In its own hometown, UCLA is the No. 2 school behind USC. Stanford is a powerhouse and recruits a certain level of prospect that the Bruins also target. Oregon has done phenomenally well recruiting under first-year coach Willie Taggart. Washington has dipped into Southern California and landed a bunch of talented recruits. Lots of kids from L.A. looking to leave for college have plenty of options in the Pac-12 so staying home isn’t as much of a necessity.

Roadblock No. 3: National programs are coming into California more for elite recruits. If Kelly is going to be as wildly successful at UCLA as he was at Oregon (taking the Ducks to the national title game) then he and his staff are going to have to keep more high-level recruits home. Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and many others are recruiting the state more and more, which means it could be challenging to keep the elite in your backyard.

No question, UCLA upgraded by hiring Kelly. No question he has proven to be successful previously. But the conference is different, the challenges are different and there’s no certainty Kelly can step into Westwood and make UCLA a title contender immediately.

Or can he?

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"It'll always be a struggle for anyone to out-recruit USC, given just how many kids grow up huge fans of the school. But if anyone has a chance to turn that tide, it's Chip. Being able to tell recruits about his Oregon teams, which featured countless superstars who are now in the NFL, should really help get UCLA back to recruiting at an elite level, even if he loses a couple battles to USC because of childhood allegiances."


“He’ll succeed there but I don’t think he’ll out-recruit USC. But he didn’t out-recruit USC when he was at Oregon and still put out some great teams. He’s a good talent evaluator. He’ll find guys who fit his system. His system is very hard to coach against so you’ll see the uptempo speed you saw at Oregon.

“It could get amplified even a little bit more. He’ll get better athletes than he did at Oregon. I’m not sure what’s in his head. Does he want to go back to the NFL? He hasn’t had a ton of great feelings out of the NFL experience he had. Did he realize that’s not where he belongs and now he should be in college football and focus on UCLA? I really don’t know. He took this job for a reason. Chip Kelly could have gotten an NFL job if he waited. I think he took UCLA to be there for a while.”