UCLA assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Bieniemy has accepted a position as running backs coach with the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, it was announced today.
Bieniemy, 36, was one of head coach Karl Dorrell's first hires, joining the staff as running backs coach in December of 2002. In his three seasons, he developed an effective running game with Maurice Drew, Manuel White Jr., Chris Markey and Michael Pitre. An outstanding recruiter, he also served as recruiting coordinator for the past year.
"This is an opportunity I felt I had to take for my future and the future of my family," said Bieniemy. "I have had a great situation at UCLA the past three years, but I feel I need NFL experience to accomplish my goal of becoming a head coach.
"I had the opportunity to play for (Vikings head coach) Brad Childress with the Eagles and also worked with him during an NFL coaching internship. I would not be leaving if Brad was not involved.
"I want to thank Karl Dorrell for the opportunity to coach at UCLA. It has been a great three years and I have matured a lot under his guidance. Karl is not only an outstanding coach, but a man of great character and vision and an outstanding role model. UCLA is on its way back to college football's elite because of his drive and determination and I am sorry I won't be here to be part of it. I will also miss my players, but I know Chris, Kahlil and Michael will have great success in the future."
"This is a wonderful opportunity for Eric," said Dorrell. "This was a very hard decision for him to make because he loves UCLA. The fact that he is good friends with Brad Childress made the position more attractive to him.
"Eric has put his heart and soul into this program for three years and we are grateful for his contributions, both on the field and in recruiting. I personally will miss his enthusiasm, but we will always be friends and he will always be associated with our program. I know he will be successful with the Vikings and we wish Eric and his family all the best."
Prior to his three seasons at UCLA, Bieniemy served as an assistant coach for two years (2001-02) at Colorado, his alma mater, where he was also a standout tailback. Prior to his coaching career, he played nine seasons in the NFL after being drafted in the second round (1991) by the San Diego Chargers -- San Diego (1991-94), Cincinnati (1995-98) and Philadelphia (1999).