The Chip Kelly era at UCLA got off to a pretty rough start but the football program got things turned around in 2021, finishing 8-4 and qualifying for the Holiday Bowl. So far in 2022, the Bruins are 2-0 on a friendly schedule that should keep them on track to succeed again this season.
What does the school credit with their newfound success? Transfers. At least, that’s according to a tweet that was posted on the UCLA Football account on Monday.
⚠️ BRUINS AT WORK ⚠️ pic.twitter.com/ErmdtPQ5qh
— UCLA Football (@UCLAFootball) September 12, 2022
Welcome to Transfer U, reads the tweet, which says “no one has successfully utilized more transfers than 2020.” Their metric for “successful utilization” appears to be that 20 transfers since 2020 have since become starters on the team, more than any other school, per the tweet. Nine transfers started for the Bruins in their season-opening win over Bowling Green.
It’s an interesting flex, especially as UCLA tries to keep up with USC for Southern California high school recruiting and prepares to enter the Big Ten recruiting world shortly. There’s certainly no shame in attracting transfer players and finding success with them, but does the school really want to cement its reputation as the place you go after you decided to commit elsewhere?
Not really, according to Kelly, who told reporters on Wednesday that the social media graphic was not his idea and he thinks it was a mistake to post.
“That shouldn’t have gone up,” Kelly said, per the LA Times’ Ben Bolch. “That was a mistake the head coach saw, and when I saw it, I said, ‘That’s a mistake.’ ”
The post remains live, perhaps in part because Kelly doesn’t know that you can delete tweets.
“Do people go back and look at it afterward?” Kelly asked a reporter after being asked about removing the message. “I’m not in that world, so if you want it off, I’ll take it off.”
Chip Kelly: “When I saw it, I said, ‘That’s a mistake.’”
Would he have the post deleted?
“It’s already out there, so I don’t know what deleting it does,” Kelly said.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) September 14, 2022
Kelly did clarify that he doesn’t think the point of the graphic is wrong, only that it’s one aspect of the team’s recruiting success.
“I think what their point is, we’ve been very efficient with our portal,” Kelly said. “I think the kids we bring in here play and that’s a credit to how we do that. We’ve always approached it like it’s free agency in the National Football League, so how can they contribute to the program?”
Ultimately, that’s the point. Some programs thrive on high school recruiting, programs that do well mixing high school recruiting with transfers, and programs that can rebuild overnight thanks to some key transfers. Kelly is probably pretty thankful for the influx of transfers to get UCLA back up off the ground, but it’s fair to assume the onus will go back on high school recruiting soon enough.
As for the UCLA football social media team, they might be getting a visit from the guy in charge of all those transfers shortly to discuss further messaging.