LOS ANGELES — UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said to give him 96 hours to find a new football coach after Chip Kelly resigned on Friday. It turns out, Jarmond needed less than 72.
Former UCLA great DeShaun Foster was named head coach on Monday to take over the program after Kelly left to become offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Foster has been a Bruins assistant the past seven years but left last month to become the Las Vegas Raiders’ running backs coach.
“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.”
This will be Foster’s first head coaching job after 11 years of being an assistant in college, including 10 at UCLA. He was the running backs coach at Texas Tech in 2016.
Foster was promoted to associate head coach last season as well as coaching running backs. In 2022, he was a nominee for the Broyles Award, presented annually to college football’s top assistant.
“While undergoing a comprehensive search for our new head coach, DeShaun resonated from the start and throughout the whole process,” Jarmond said in a statement. “We are looking for a coach with integrity, energy and passion; someone who is a great teacher, who develops young men, is a great recruiter and fully embraces the NIL landscape to help our student-athletes. DeShaun checks all of those boxes and then some. He is a leader of men and a true Bruin. I am excited to partner with him as we usher UCLA Football into an exciting new era.”
Foster’s return comes two months before the Bruins begin spring practice as they prepare to join the Big Ten Conference. It could also help mitigate a large exodus of the roster since players have a 30-day period to enter the transfer portal after a coaching change.
UCLA’s running game was one of the strengths during Kelly’s six seasons in charge. The Bruins led the Pac-12 in rushing the past two years and have been in the top 20 nationally three straight seasons.
Foster coached running backs that were selected in the NFL draft four straight years — Zach Charbonnet (Seattle, 2023), Brittain Brown (Las Vegas, 2022), Demetric Felton (Cleveland, 2021) and Joshua Kelley (Los Angeles Chargers, 2020).
Foster was also the Bruins running back the last time they won the Pac-12 and went to the Rose Bowl in 1998. He remains second in school history in touchdowns (44) and third in rushing yards (3,194).
Kelly had a 35-34 record with the Bruins, but the program was showing signs of stagnating ahead of its move to the Big Ten.
UCLA was expected to contend for a Pac-12 title in 2023, but was 8-5, including losses in three of their last four regular-season games.
Jarmond decided to not make a move at the end of last season, but Kelly expressed interest in NFL offensive coordinator jobs as well as the opening at Boston College before heading to Ohio State. Kelly also talked to Oregon about a possible return two years ago.