The NFL should be ashamed of itself that Eric Bieniemy has to coach in college

Eric Bieniemy may be happy and who am I to say someone shouldn't be happy? Bieniemy may also be doing what he wants. He may see what he's doing as something that's as important as any of his NFL coaching jobs. All of that may be true.

But the news, first reported by ESPN, that Bieniemy was joining UCLA's staff as associate head coach/offensive coordinator is also something else: shameful. It's shameful that a coach who won a Super Bowl has to flee to college. It's shameful that Bieniemy, who helped craft the career of future Hall of Famer Patrick Mahomes, has to run to college.

It's embarrassing for the NFL, its teams, its owners, that someone who was as good as Bieniemy has to scamper off to college. And he didn't leave for college to become a head coach. He left to become an assistant coach.

"Happy for Eric Bieniemy," former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III wrote, in part, on X, formerly Twitter, "but how this man can't get a head coaching job in the NFL or in college is UNBELIEVABLE."

Eric Bieniemy is heading to UCLA as an offensive coordinator.
Eric Bieniemy is heading to UCLA as an offensive coordinator.

Bieniemy helped Kansas City reach multiple Super Bowls but unlike many other champion offensive coordinators, he never got a head coaching position. This despite being a key cog in the ascension of the Chiefs to a dynasty.

“EB is going to be harsh on you,” Mahomes once said. "He’s going to really try and get the best out of you every single day. He’s going to hold you accountable when you don’t want to hold yourself accountable. (His coaching) made me a better player."

Bieniemy should have become an NFL head coach but he never got that opportunity. But it wasn't for lack of trying. After being shut out for head coaching jobs while he was with Kansas City, Bieniemy left to become the offensive coordinator for Washington. It was generally assumed he went to the Commanders to get out from under the shadow of coach Andy Reid.

The fact he had to do that in the first place was another embarrassment for the NFL.

And now here we are. A Super Bowl winner. A Mahomes developer. A smart offensive mind. Now off to college.

Bieniemy framed the move (partly) as a sort of homecoming. He grew up in the area and coached for the Bruins in the early 2000s.

"Southern California," Bieniemy wrote in an email Saturday, according to ESPN. "I attended high school there. I started my career in the league here (with the Chargers). It's obviously great to be back with the Bruins, where I was previously employed."

Bieniemy says one team he interviewed with (he didn't identify the franchise) offered him its assistant head coach/running backs job. That position was essentially a lateral move.

"I have had countless conversations and interviews with many teams, and I have been applauded and lauded," Bieniemy wrote. "I can't say why certain decisions were or were not made but it had nothing to (do) with a lack of anything on my end.

"My self-dignity, worth, integrity, personhood, manhood will never be questioned or compromised. It is not always about money, either. With everything in life, it is often all about timing. At this time in my life, the opportunity affords me the pleasure of continuing to be a maker and leader of men, to do what I love, follow my passion and my dreams while not compromising on who I am as a man."

We need to be clear. If Bieniemy had been offered an NFL head coaching job, he wouldn't be going to college. Even if he was offered some type of position that looked like a promising avenue to a head coaching position, he wouldn't leave the NFL.

Bieniemy, I believe, looks at his NFL prospects and knows his chances of finding true career advancement are all but dead. He has an opportunity (perhaps) to reset things at UCLA and (maybe) get another chance to become a head coach in the NFL.

But for now, for right now, someone who won two Super Bowls as Kansas City's offensive coordinator, who went to five consecutive conference championship games that included three Super Bowl appearances, will reportedly coach at UCLA. No offense to UCLA but this is a magnificent step down.

The NFL, the owners, and others, should be ashamed of themselves that this happened.

Absolutely ashamed.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Eric Bieniemy has to coach in college. NFL should be ashamed.