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Was UCLA the best move for former Commanders OC Eric Bieniemy?

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Former Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is finalizing a two-year deal with UCLA to become the Bruins’ next OC, according to multiple reports.

Bieniemy’s return to UCLA (he was the running backs coach there from 2003-2005) comes after he spent five seasons as Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, and the past year with the same title in Washington. Bieniemy has been the subject of controversy over the past few seasons, as many have argued that he deserves to be a head coach.

Skip Bayless shares that belief and doubled down on his stance Monday.

“When I first read this, it hit me as sad, like ‘this is just wrong,'” Bayless said on “Undisputed.” ‘He deserved a better fate than this, now he’s relegated to having to go back to college.’ Then I started thinking about the Rooney Rule. … It feels like he interviewed for every job for three years. A bunch of ’em were dog-and-pony interviews … and he got taken for rides numerous times. And I think that still sticks in his craw because it should.

“But I know who Eric Bieniemy is like crazy,” Bayless said, “Like, that’s a big name to me. … He contributed to Kansas City’s rise. … I didn’t think that Eric made enough money in Kansas City, and then he goes to Washington, and that situation … it was doomed from the start. … There’s only so much you can do, and he did the best he could.”

But Keyshawn Johnson sees Bieniemy’s differently, saying that returning to college would help open future head coaching opportunities for him. 

“I think it’s a great fit for him,” Johnson said. “There’s an opportunity there, right? … On average, there are 18 NFL openings over three years, if my math is correct. He’s interviewed for all them jobs. … That’s half the league! They’ve all seen him … and nobody’s hired him. What has happened now is he’s got an opportunity to go back to college, bring what he brought to Kansas City and Washington … to UCLA with a young coach in Deshaun Foster, who says ‘okay I can utilize this, and I can learn from this, and he can help me become a better head coach.’ But at the same time, the opportunity presents itself to all the universities that have not had an opportunity to see him.

“In college, there’s tons of teams that get in front of you cause there’s so many teams. The athletic directors aren’t making the hires, no matter what they tell you. The guy who’s writing the check, he’s making the hire. … The AD signs off on it, and stands up there at the press conference. But they’re the ones who’s financially backing it. Let’s say he goes on to have a good season at UCLA this year, and maybe even a better one the following year, now there’s a job opening somewhere that says ‘this is the way that we need to go.’”

Bieniemy will serve as the Bruins’ associate head coach along his offensive coordinator role, joining new head coach DeShaun Foster in L.A. this fall.

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