Should he stay or should he go?
It’s no secret that Chip Kelly has NFL aspirations. The Oregon Ducks head coach made that apparent last season when he accepted a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but quickly retracted his decision .
Now with the team experiencing more success than ever, and with Kelly’s stock being as high as it’s ever been, the talented leader will be presented with opportunities to bolt for the NFL, and nobody in their right mind can blame him for listening.
But the question is, which goal holds more weight in Kelly’s mind? A shot at the NFL, or a shot at a legendary BCS career?
If Kelly stays, he has a chance to continue his legacy long into the future. If he goes, he’ll be starting from scratch, and there’s no guarantee he’ll ever reach the level of success—or popularity—he’s already obtained at the University of Oregon.
Why Leave a Good Thing?
Kelly may be just four years into his college coaching career, but he is already regarded as one of the best football minds that the game has to offer.
The 49-year-old has posted a 45-7 record in his time with the Ducks, he’s been to three—soon four—BCS Bowl Games and he has earned Coach of the Year honors in a multitude of different categories. His offense is virtually untouched by any other team in the nation, and he is the one true staple in an Oregon system that has brought in new players year after year and still found success.
If Kelly leaves for the NFL, he’s leaving a fan base that cherishes him on the field, and finds him to be just as entertaining off it.
There’s no promise of success at the next level, but the shot at a legendary career at Oregon has already begun.
NFL Experience, NFL Translation
Kelly has zero NFL experience. He’s never coached at the professional level, he never played at the professional level and it’s difficult to picture just how well the up-tempo, no-huddle offense would work against bigger, stronger, faster defenses.
We all know that Kelly doesn’t like the way college recruiting works, but is he really going to convince a group of grown men—who are playing for contracts; not a chance at the next level—to play at such a furious pace?
For all we know, Kelly would hit the ground running and revolutionize the offensive game, not unlike what he did with the Ducks. But that’s a big chance to take when you’re already on top of the world.
Three More Years of Marcus Mariota
The redshirt freshman has been one of the most efficient quarterbacks in all of college football, his running game has been just as lethal as his passing game and heading into the contest against the Stanford Cardinal, he had the top quarterback rating of anybody in the country.
If Kelly leaves the program for the NFL, he’ll be leaving the opportunity to mold one of the best young prospects that the team has ever had.
Marcus Mariota may leave for the NFL before his eligibility is complete, but if Kelly sticks around, he’ll have one of the best quarterbacks in the nation—not to mention one of the best running backs in De’Anthony Thomas—to help lead his team to the promise land.
Kelly sited “unfinished business,” as part of the reason he returned to the team this past offseason, and as soon as the Ducks lost to Stanford in 2012, it became clear that the “business” would yet again remain incomplete.
This fanbase is itching for a return to the national championship, and coach Kelly is the one who is best suited to get them there. His offense is designed to put up ridiculous numbers, and his “Win The Day” mantra is just what this team needs to stay focused.
The current BCS system has made it difficult for a one-loss Oregon team to compete in the biggest game that college football has to offer, but the 2014 season is set to be the inaugural year with a four-team playoff.
If Kelly truly wants to return to the title game and get his chance to win on college football’s grand stage, he must return to Oregon, and he must stick around to test the waters in the BCS Playoffs.