UCLA’s rise with Chip Kelly has been an exercise in patience

Watching a Chip Kelly practice is a window into the things that have made him a transformative college football coach: breathless tempo, exacting attention to detail, some wonkish eccentricity, simmering intensity, joy in the craft.

“This is our happy place,” Kelly says afterward on the UCLA practice field, an oasis of artificial turf tucked into the Westwood campus between fabled Pauley Pavilion, a hotel and a parking garage. Kelly is smiling and fidgeting, occasionally tucking his hands into his armpits as he talks, willing to entertain questions but ultimately much more interested in prepping for the biggest game of his UCLA tenure Saturday against Oregon. He is not a man prone to standing still.

That was reflected in Monday’s practice—or training, as Kelly prefers to call it, in line with military terminology. Between 9 and 10:26 a.m., there was maybe two minutes in which the Bruins could relax and exhale. Kelly used those two minutes to embrace his former punter from the 2019 team, Wade Lees, who was visiting from Australia with his wife and daughter. “We need to tighten up security around here,” Kelly cracked as a greeting to Lees, a flash of the coach’s sarcastic New England sense of humor.