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Eric Bieniemy expected to join UCLA as associate head coach, offensive coordinator, AP sources say

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Posted at 10:09 PM, Feb 24, 2024

LOS ANGELES — Eric Bieniemy is on the verge of returning home for his next job.

The former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders offensive coordinator is expected to become UCLA's associate head coach and offensive coordinator, two people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The people spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because details of the contract are still being worked out.

Bieniemy is the first significant hire for new UCLA coach DeShaun Foster, who was hired on Feb. 12 after Chip Kelly left Westwood to become Ohio State's offensive coordinator.

Bieniemy, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs, spent the past season in Washington. He wasn’t retained by new Commanders coach Dan Quinn, who replaced Ron Rivera.

Foster does not have head coaching or coordinator experience, so the hiring of Bieniemy gives the Bruins an experienced voice as they enter the Big Ten in 2024 and try to retain or add players via the transfer portal.

Despite his success in Kansas City, Bieniemy hasn’t been able to land a heading coach job even though he has interviewed with more than half of the NFL’s teams.

Bieniemy only received offers to be a running backs coach and pass game coordinator for 2024 so he chose to return to UCLA, where he spent three seasons as an assistant in various roles from 2003-05.

Bieniemy spent 10 seasons with the Chiefs working under Andy Reid and played a major role in helping Patrick Mahomes develop into one of the NFL’s best players. Mahomes just led the Chiefs to their third Super Bowl title in five years and earned MVP honors for the third time.

Reid brought Bieniemy in to speak to the offense before the Chiefs beat Baltimore in the AFC championship game.

“It’s always great to have EB in the building,” Mahomes said. “Just being there, the energy that he brings, the mentality that he brings, you can feel because he has that intensity, but he loves it. He loves being there, he loves being a part of the team and being a part of that culture. Just having him back in the building was really cool; listening to him talk, his energy. I think guys had a little bit of chill bumps, like, ‘Hey, EB’s back here.’ Obviously, he didn’t get that head coaching opportunity, but I’m excited for him to continue to coach football and to continue to make his impact on the game.”

Bieniemy went to Washington to escape Reid’s shadow and have full control of play-calling duties. He had mixed results for a 4-13 team that lacked talent overall. The Commanders finished with the league’s 24th-ranked offense behind quarterback Sam Howell.

“His coaching future is great. I’m obviously a big fan of his and I know the things that he can do,” Reid said about Bieniemy before the Super Bowl.

Bieniemy attended high school in Southern California at Bishop Amat in La Puente, which is 20 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

It is Bieniemy’s first college job since 2012, when he was the offensive coordinator and running backs coach at Colorado

Bieniemy’s second college coaching job was at UCLA. He coached running backs for three seasons and also was the Bruins’ recruiting coordinator in 2005.

Foster, a Bruins assistant for the past seven years, left last month to become the Las Vegas Raiders’ running backs coach but returned to his alma mater after Kelly’s departure.

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.