Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly smiles after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats following the Fiesta Bowl football game in Glendale, Arizona, in this January 3, 2013 file photo. Kelly is headed to the NFL and will be named the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles according to news reports. REUTERS/Ralph Freso/Files (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL) ORG XMIT: TOR410 (Ralph Freso / January 16, 2013)
Chip Kelly has flown the coop.
Leave it to Kelly, whose offenses at Oregon were just as unpredictable as he was, to shock everyone with a decision to leave the comforts of Eugene for the harsh reality of Philadelphia. Nothing against the City of Brotherly Love, but Eagles fans were the same ones who pelted Santa Claus with snowballs and cheered when Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin was carted off the field with a neck injury.
It’s no greater Northwest that’s for sure.
His decision to leave was just the latest in a trend of college coaches flirting with the NFL. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly reportedly interviewed with the Eagles last week while the Buffalo Bills hired formerSyracuse coach Doug Marrone to be their next head coach.
Kelly’s decision comes just 10 days after he told Oregon officials he was happy to be with the Ducks. Why wouldn’t he? Backed by the millions of dollars from Oregon alum and Nike founder Phil Knight, the Ducks football program is one of the top programs in the country. The facilities are first rate and the team benefits by having Nike create some of the most unique and trend-setting uniforms in college football.
But as flashy as those uniforms are, the lure of the NFL was flashier for Kelly.
How else can you explain how Kelly would walk away from a job where he makes close to $3.5 million per season? Especially when you consider he has no NFL experience on his resume. Money, could be a reason, but like I mentioned, I’m sure the school would have given him a bigger contract extension.
Maybe it has something to do with an impending NCAA investigation looming over the Oregon program? With the NCAA breathing down his neck about the Willie Lyles recruiting scandal, maybe he felt now was the right time to get out.
Either way, it’s a tough blow for an Oregon program which was 46-7 including an impressive 33-3 record in the Pac-12 Conference under Kelly. The Ducks played in four straight BCS bowl games including the national championship game in 2010, losing to Auburn 23-19. He most recently led the team to a 12-1 record and a win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.
Loaded with both speed and talent, Kelly’s teams at Oregon have been one of the most explosive in recent memory. The Ducks ranked first in the country in scoring offense (49 ppg) and fifth in the nation in total offense (537 ypg) last season.
It was that offensive firepower which made Kelly an attractive option for many NFL GMs including the Eagles, which ranked 15th in total offense last season.
Kelly toyed with the idea of leaving Oregon for the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but at the last minute, he called an audible and changed his mind deciding to stay in Eugene. This time, however, it appears the lure of the NFL was too much for him to say no.
Oregon officials must now decide on the future of their program. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will reportedly be the main target to replace Kelly, which makes sense if you are looking to make a smooth transition during the coaching change. With a team loaded with talent like quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas, the Ducks are considered a top five team going into 2013.
How Kelly’s departure affects Oregon’s future will be a key question going into spring practice, but for the 11 other coaches in the Pac-12, I can’t imagine they are too sad to see Kelly go.
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