April 20, 2024

Why did UCLA hire Eric Bieniemy? Former Commanders, Chiefs offensive coordinator lands with Bruins

After weeks of speculation, Eric Bieniemy has finally found a home for the 2024 season.

The former Chiefs and Commanders offensive coordinator spent weeks searching for a gig after being fired Washington. He was linked with a wide array of NFL jobs, including — perhaps most enticingly — a return to Kansas City.

Instead, he will take his talents to the college game as he attempts to resurrect his once promising big-league career.

Bieniemy, 54, agreed to join UCLA on Saturday, according to multiple reports. The deal will see him join new UCLA head coach DeShaun Foster’s staff as the associate head coach and offensive coordinator. Bieniemy will have full play-calling responsibilities as the Bruins swap the warm confines of the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, per Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz.

While Bieniemy’s dreams of leading an NFL team as a head coach has not yet come to fruition, he isn’t resting on his laurels. Instead, he will look to make the grade in familiar territory in 2024.

Here’s what you need to know.

Why did UCLA hire Eric Bieniemy?

Bieniemy’s hiring represents a major coup for Foster, the newly minted Bruins boss. Bieniemy brings a treasure trove of experience to Los Angeles, which could prove vital for Foster & Co. given that the 44-year-old head coach has no experience as a coordinator.

“This is a great opportunity for me to help support DeShaun as a head coach, to work with him and to work for him as well,” Bieniemy wrote in an email to ESPN. “My goal is to help him to be a successful head coach in our profession.”

Bieniemy has spent 16 years rocking a headset at the NFL level. Before that, though, he was a much-lauded offensive mind in the college game. He previously shined in the OC role at Colorado in the early 2010s. He also has spent plenty of time in Tinseltown; he hails from the area and spent three years as a Bruins assistant (2003-05).

“It’s an opportunity for my family and I to return back to a place that we once called home,” Bieniemy told ESPN.

He interviewed for a number of NFL opportunities this offseason, including the Commanders’ head coaching job, and one NFL team offered him a job as assistant head coach for running backs coach, he told ESPN. But it seems Bieniemy wants to take on a new challenge, one that sees him help cultivate the next generation of talent.

“It is not always about money, either. With everything in life, it is often all about timing,” Bieniemy wrote. “At this time in my life, the opportunity affords me the pleasure of continuing to be a maker and leader of men, to do what I love, follow my passion and my dreams while not compromising on who I am as a man.”