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UCLA Hires Former Commanders OC Eric Bieniemy, Passes on NFL Job Offers

Former Commanders and Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is heading to the college ranks, joining UCLA’s new staff.



Pittsburgh Steelers Washington Commanders Eric Bieniemy
Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in action during an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Former Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is joining UCLA as their offensive coordinator and passing on multiple NFL job offers to become a running backs coach or passing game coordinator. Instead, he will now run the offense at the college level. New Commanders head coach Dan Quinn did not retain Bieniemy, instead hiring Kliff Kingsbury.

The Pittsburgh Steelers might’ve been interested in Bieniemy for their offensive coordinator vacancy, but he wasn’t available when Mike Tomlin made the decision to offer Arthur Smith the job early last week.

Bieniemy spent one season as the offensive coordinator of the Washington Commanders after five years serving as the offensive coordinator under Andy Ried with the Kansas City Chiefs. When head coach Ron Rivera as fired on Jan. 8, Bieniemy went into coaching purgatory. 

He interviewed for the head coaching job in Washington, but was clearly not considered the favorite as the Commanders first pursued Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson before finally pivoting to Quinn. After the Quinn news was first reported, Eric Bieniemy became a late candidate for the Las Vegas Raiders offensive coordinator job, but that was filled by former Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

Bieniemy certainly could have been a candidate for the Steelers. But new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith was set to fly to Tampa to interview for the Buccaneers job, so Mike Tomlin could have felt pressured to offer him the job, at risk of losing out on his top current choice.

It’s clear the Bieniemy viewed those assistant jobs in the NFL as a step-down and instead wanted to run his own offense, which he will get a chance to do at UCLA under new head coach DeShaun Foster. That void was left vacant when Chip Kelly darted to become the offensive coordinator at Ohio State.