UCLA is set to hire Eric Bainemi as its offensive coordinator

DeShaun Foster's debut has a throwback feel.

The new UCLA football coach has enlisted a former Bruins assistant as his offensive coordinator, closing a deal to bring in Eric Bainemi after nearly two decades as the team's running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

The move to hire Bieniemy was confirmed on Saturday by a person close to the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been officially completed. Bieniemy will receive a two-year contract, ESPN reported.

Bieniemy, 54, has spent most of his time since leaving UCLA in the NFL, winning two Super Bowls in five seasons as offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs before floundering in his only season in the same role with the Washington Commanders.

He'll bring a pro-style offense to the Bruins that fits the scheme, as it's similar to what he ran under former coach Chip Kelly before becoming Ohio State's offensive coordinator this month. Bieniemy's hiring offers the first clues about Foster's stylistic preferences, with Foster saying he wanted to hire someone who shared his football DNA.

While at UCLA, after Texas coach Mack Brown tried to add Byenemy to his staff, he recruited stars including Maurice Jones-Drew. . The Bruins also provided assistance from the UCLA/Orthopedic Hospital Center for Cerebral Palsy to Bainemi's then-10-year-old son, Eric Bainemi III, who suffered from a motor impairment disorder.

Eric Bainemi stands on the sidelines during a game between the Commanders and the Denver Broncos in September.

(David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

During a 2005 interview with The Times, Bieniemy said the root of strong recruiting is relentlessly building personal relationships.

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“It's all about being aggressive throughout that recruiting process,” Bienimy said. “It's all about being seen. If we're doing those things right, any kid in the right mindset, if they have the opportunity to go to school here, they're not going to turn that opportunity down.

“We know we're going to lose some battles. But you know what, we're going to win more battles than we're going to lose.

Leaving UCLA before the 2006 season to become the Minnesota Vikings' running backs coach, Bieniemy spent the last two decades in the NFL as offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Colorado. The school offered Benemi the head coaching job in 2020, but he declined.

In recent years, Bieniemy has reportedly interviewed for 15 NFL head coaching jobs without being offered an offer, with some questioning his abilities and others lambasting teams for passing him over multiple times.

Born in New Orleans, Bainemi and his family later moved to Southern California, and he ran again for Bishop Amat High before choosing Colorado over USC.

During his time with Kansas City, Bainemi teamed up with coach Andy Reid to create one of the NFL's top offenses centered around quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But Bainemi's short tenure in Washington, in which he was given full play-calling duties, led to his departure earlier this month after Dan Quinn replaced Ron Rivera as the Commanders' coach.

In an email to ESPN on Saturday, Bieniemy denied being fired.

“Contrary to what some people think and what has been published in the media, I have not been fired,” Bieniemy wrote. “I actually decided not to stay. I learned a lot, which is always a good thing.

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A recent story in the Washington Post described Bieniemy as lacking beyond his role as the architect of an offense that ranked 23rd in the NFL in scoring. Although he was universally praised as a hard worker, Benemi was known for being stubbornly overconfident in throwing the ball and failing to develop strong relationships with players.

However, Bieniemy was so popular in Kansas City that the team allowed him to talk to the players before appearing in the AFC Championship Game.

“It was great to have him back in the building, to hear him talk, his energy,” Mahomes told reporters earlier this month. “I think there were some cool 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 be a football coach and continue to have an impact on the game.

Bieniemy gained another fan in Ethan Garbers via the UCLA quarterback's post on the social media site X shortly after the Bieniemy deal was made public.

Garbers opened her message with two smiley face emojis and added, “Time to have some fun….”

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