Nearly three weeks after adopting the role of interim head coach, things still don’t feel normal for Jedd Fisch. This is not the UCLA he knew.
“To me, normal at UCLA in 2017 was Jim Mora was the head coach, I was the offensive coordinator and Tom Bradley was the defensive coordinator,” Fisch said on the phone Thursday. “That was what was normal and as soon as that was not the case, it’s no longer normal for the 2017 season.
“We’ll do everything we can to be fully prepared and ready and put our absolute best foot forward for a great (bowl) game, but I don’t think normalcy will come back.”
Little about the way UCLA is finishing its season is normal. The Bruins had to cancel practice this week due to concerns about wildfires in the area. Despite a shortened bowl prep schedule that cut into the team’s self-scouting period, Fisch said there will still be eight days of practice and nine days of meetings before the Cactus Bowl on Dec. 26, which is more than enough time.
“That’s twice as long as a normal game week,” Fisch said.
UCLA will resume practice Dec. 18 after players take final exams next week.
Despite taking up the head-coaching role, Fisch has stayed away from imposing on the defensive side of the ball. He’ll leave that to Bradley and the rest of the defensive coaching staff that Mora assembled. Fisch’s role on defense amounts to pestering the coaches if they need a timeout during a game.
“We’re in a place where really everybody just needs to do their expertise right now,” Fisch said.
The Bruins have one more game until the Chip Kelly era officially begins at UCLA. At that time, there will be “a new normal,” Fisch said, but the 41-year-old assistant doesn’t yet know if he’ll be included in that next chapter.
The two offensive-minded coaches spoke extensively when Kelly first took over, but they have kept their distance lately, Fisch said, as Kelly tries to assemble his new coaching staff and lock in recruits for the early signing period that starts Dec. 20.
Fisch, who helped energize a UCLA offense that ranked 11th in scoring and 10th in total yards in the Pac-12 last year, came to Westwood for a chance to call offensive plays again after he split the duties at Michigan. Kelly, known for ushering a revolutionary up-tempo offense into college football while at Oregon, has his own experience calling plays as a head coach.
“We’ve talked initially about it, but I think we’ll figure that out after the bowl…