UCLA Football: What does the bowl game mean for Jedd Fisch?

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Interim head coach Jedd Fisch of the UCLA Bruins leads his team on to the field before the game against the California Golden Bears at Rose Bowl on November 24, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Interim head coach Jedd Fisch of the UCLA Bruins leads his team on to the field before the game against the California Golden Bears at Rose Bowl on November 24, 2017 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

As new UCLA Football head coach Chip Kelly begins putting his staff together for the 2018 season we have to wonder about the Bruins’ interim head coach, Jedd Fisch. Is he coaching for the offensive coordinator job? Or is he auditioning for another team?

Let’s take a look at the Jedd Fisch timeline as it relates to the UCLA Football team. After serving as the passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan in 2016 Fisch was hired to be UCLA’s offensive coordinator. His hiring came following an abysmal 2015 season that saw the Bruins struggle to pull off the NFL, power themed offense favored by Kennedy Polamalu and then head coach Jim Mora.

Fisch took an offense that was ranked 100 out of 130 in 2016 and through creative play designs and proper personnel usage improved that ranking to 21 out of 130. Yes Fisch had a healthy Josh Rosen but outside of that he put together an offense to showcase his QB, mitigate risk on the offensive line and by the end of the year the running game was much more efficient than at any other point in the past two seasons.

Related Story: UCLA Football: Chip Kelly has begun assembling his staff

He was named the interim head coach and beat Cal to get the Bruins to a bowl game but the very nature of the “interim” title implies temporary. When the UCLA athletic department shocked the world and fired Mora then one upped that move by hiring Kelly speculation began to swirl regarding Fisch’s future with the team. We knew that he obviously wouldn’t be the head coach but what would his title be and where would he be in 2018?

The plot began to thicken when it was reported that WR coach Jimmie Dougherty, OL coach Hank Fraley and RB coach DeShaun Foster were all being retained by Kelly for at least the 2018 season. Those are Fisch’s guys and those moves would indicate that Fisch is going to be retained as well. It’s hard to bring in a new OC and ask him to work with a staff he didn’t get to choose.

However the closer we get to the start of the Kelly era and we don’t hear any news on Fisch as far as the offensive coordinator job is concerned, the more curious we have to become about what may transpire. Kelly was quoted as saying after speaking with Fisch that the interim coach was clear on “outlining his vision for what the next 30 days should look like”.

While that looks like there’s a hard 30 day limit to Fisch’s tenure there’s actually another reason for the 30 day window. Fisch’s contract with the UCLA Football team has a clause included that states that if UCLA doesn’t tell Fisch within 30 days of Mora’s firing that he is being retained then at the end of 30 days he will be let go and that the Bruins are free from any further contractual obligations.

Now of course there could be an agreement in place between Kelly and Fisch that after the bowl game he will be able to retain his title and perhaps even negotiate a pay raise. But we cannot confirm that nor have we heard anything that would make us think this is a real scenario.

30 days from Mora’s firing would be December 18, just over a week before the UCLA Football team takes on Kansas State in the Cactus Bowl. So if, and it’s a growing if, Kelly wants to keep Fisch and they can agree to terms it will likely have to happen before then.

There is realistic chance that Kelly is going through this scenario. But there is also the chance that Kelly is allowing Fisch to finish his duties as interim head coach and then move on from the program. Could Jedd be then showcasing his abilities for another team?

A win over another team from a power five conference, especially in convincing fashion, will give Fisch a bigger bargaining chip no matter what happens and should he return to the Bruins he could eventually parlay a bowl win into a head coach job in the near future.

There are a number of teams across the country that are in need of an experienced play caller for either their offensive coordinator job or even as a head coach this year. Fisch has never been a head coach prior to the interim title but has demonstrated an ability to coach up the talent he has around him and figure out what works best for his units. UCF is rumored to be looking at former Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin but if Fisch became available would they consider him given the turnaround he helped facilitate in UCLA’s offense? The Knights aren’t the only team looking for a new head coach and it isn’t crazy to think Fisch should be in consideration for some of them if he leaves the Bruins.

Likely Fisch is another off-season away from serious head coach consideration somewhere but there have been more mind-blowing head coach hires before.

Next: UCLA Football: Bruins are headed to the Cactus Bowl

I for one would love to keep Fisch and pair him with Kelly’s deadly rushing attack. There is a large group that want Kelly to pick the guys he wants on his staff but by that same token wouldn’t he have done it already if he wanted someone else? Just imagine Fisch’s passing concepts with the run threat that Kelly’s offense already poses to defenses and it will be the classic “pick your poison” when teams have to play UCLA. A fan could really get used to the Fisch and Chip offense.