UCLA associate head coach and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy speaks...

UCLA associate head coach and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy speaks with the reporters during an NCAA college football media availability, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP/Joseph Reedy

LOS ANGELES — Eric Bieniemy's focus is on evaluating UCLA’s offense. Not on what brought him back to Westwood.

Speaking to reporters for the first time since being hired as UCLA’s offensive coordinator and associate head coach, Bieniemy didn’t want to discuss what happened in his lone season as offensive coordinator for the Washington Commanders or other opportunities he had to remain in the NFL.

“What I’m going say is this: I’m here coaching at UCLA. All that other stuff, you could go talk to the Commanders. I’ll leave it just like that,” Bieniemy said Thursday after UCLA’s second spring practice.

Bieniemy, a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Kansas City Chiefs as offensive coordinator, wasn’t retained by new Commanders coach Dan Quinn, who replaced Ron Rivera.

In an email to ESPN in late February, Bieniemy said he was not fired in Washington: “I actually just chose not to stay. Learned a lot, and that is always a good thing.”

Bieniemy received NFL offers to coach running backs or be a passing game coordinator for the coming season.

DeShaun Foster reached out to Bieniemy after being named coach on Feb. 13 when Chip Kelly left following six seasons to become Ohio State’s offensive coordinator.

Bieniemy was on the Bruins staff from 2003-05 as running backs coach. He also was the recruiting coordinator in 2005.

Before accepting the job, Bieniemy asked Foster to let him wade through a few things.

“We’ve always had a relationship. I thought that was huge that he would want me to come out, and I just wanted to jump on the opportunity to help DeShaun build the program up to his vision,” Bieniemy said.

Bieniemy has been vocal about what he expects in the first two practices. He called players back into the huddle about not communicating.

On Tuesday, he criticized running back T.J. Harden during one drill, saying: “If you don’t like working, don’t worry about it. I’ll find somebody else.”

After the first practice, Foster said that is what he expects from Bieniemy.

“He’s getting the guys going, holding them to a standard they want to be held to. And I think that will help us get to where we want to go,” Foster said.

When it comes to what type of offense Bieniemy and Foster want to run at UCLA, that remains a work in progress. Bieniemy knows he wants a diverse, balanced scheme, but much of it depends on his personnel and how much those players can absorb.

“The biggest thing right now is making sure that as a new staff that we evaluate everybody and make sure we know exactly what they can do. It is going to give us a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and what we are going to do with the offense moving forward,” Bieniemy said.

The Bruins, who move to the Big Ten this coming season, have some talent returning at the skill positions, even though they struggled on Thursday. Quarterback Ethan Garbers had timing issues, with many of his passes hitting the ground.

UCLA was 8-5 last season in its final year in the Pac-12.

“There’s been some good, there’s been some bad, there’s been some ugly from all of them, but like I said, it’s still early,” Bieniemy said. “I’m not expecting us to come out and set the world on fire. What I want us to do is just to continue first and foremost, learn how to put consistent behavior on tape. Once we learn how to put consistent behavior on tape, the rest of everything will take care of itself.”

Wide receiver Logan Loya said having Bieniemy and an offensive staff with NFL experience should be a benefit.

“He’s been very engaged. The energy level makes you match it, which is awesome,” Loya said. “We’re just in the basics right now (with the offense). It will be crazy to see what’s in the future.”


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