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Eric Bieniemy Made the Right Choice Going to UCLA

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Regardless of what has been said or written, Eric Bieniemy had limited options after he was fired by the Washington Commanders earlier this month.  With no offers in the NFL, his only path was to return to the college ranks. He may never be an NFL head coach, but if he plays his cards right in the Big 10, he could be a head coach in college.

Former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy made the only move he could by returning to college football. In taking the Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator positions at UCLA, he puts distance between himself and his NFL dreams to be a Head Coach.

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For all his greatness as a coach, Eric Bieniemy could never get across the NFL threshold to become an NFL Head Coach. He interviewed for vacancies, but NFL owners never felt he had the right stuff to run their respective franchises.

Rumors suggesting he could return to the Chiefs were simply false. When the Chiefs orchestrated his move to Washington last year, they preferred Matt Nagy as their offensive coordinator, and his steady hand with Reid was simply a better fit. Thus, any suggestions that EB would return to Kansas City had zero merit. It was never happening, nor will EB be under consideration when Reid retires someday. 

That ship has sailed.

Bieniemy is old school; he doesn’t have a lot of finesse in his approach to life or coaching. He shoots from the hip and uses his bulldog nature to get his point across. That works as a position coach and offensive coordinator, but that’s not what NFL owners seek nowadays.

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As a member of the Chiefs’ coaching staff, he was always second fiddle to Andy Reid. He had the offensive coordinator title, but Reid called the plays. That shadow hurt his chances of being a head coach. He didn’t exactly turn the commanders into offensive juggernauts in one year in Washington. They were average at best, but he made the most of it with an offensive group with minimal talent.

Still, when the Commanders hired Kliff Kingsbury, it was clear that Bieniemy was done coaching in the NFL. Though he claimed he was not fired and left on his own accord, his NFL window has officially closed, and returning to college football was his only path to continue his coaching career.

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I know very little about the UCLA football program. Still, with their inclusion into the Big 10 this season, Bieniemy will be closely watched by Athletic Directors who might be looking for their next head coach someday.

If I were EB, I’d never return to the NFL. After all, he has multiple Super Bowl rings, and he was able to coach Patrick Mahomes. He learned under one of the best offensive minds in the NFL, and now he can change course without the NFL’s distraction.

College football is unpredictable and highly competitive, and with NIL money at UCLA and an endless pit of cash, EB will have every resource available when it comes to recruiting. He is a good fit opposite the new Head Coach, DeShaun Foster, who spent ten years on the staff before being promoted earlier this month.

They are similar in their approach to football. They both played at the NFL level and paid their dues to earn their current coaching positions. The combination of EB and Foster certainly can be very successful.

For his sake, EB gets a chance to be his own man away from the NFL. He can reinvent himself and do what he loves; coach young men willing to work hard and understand what it takes to win football games and be great men after football.

At UCLA, he’ll be under the spotlight, and that’s not a bad thing for whatever happens next in his coaching career.

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