Building a Legacy
Chip Kelly has done wonders for the University of Oregon and its football program. In his four years as Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks, Oregon has risen to new heights on the field and gained its fair share of exposure off of it. His innovative offense and unique coaching style has led to four straight BCS appearances (the first time a coach has accomplished this feat in his first four years), the past two resulting in big wins for the program.
And, while rumors were rampant in the past few days about Kelly taking his talents to the NFL level (particularly to Cleveland or Philadelphia), the dust has settled and the man referred to as “Big Balls Chip” by the Oregon faithful will continue to build his historic college football legacy — much to the chagrin of other Pac-12 fans.
The decision, which came as a surprise to many NFL and college football analysts, ended the quick process of job finding that Kelly wanted to embark upon after Oregon’s resounding win over the Kansas State Wildcats in the 2013 Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl.
Though there were more than a few people who doubted whether Kelly’s system could be effective at the NFL level, young, fast, and exciting quarterbacks such as Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have begun to prove that mobile quarterbacks that can run a read-option (the base of Kelly’s offense) can succeed on the big stage.
This shift in previous thought and success of these two rookies this season sparked what would become quite a nerve-racking few days for Ducks fans across the nation, nerves that were rattled further when seven NFL coaches were let go on “Black Monday”.
Immediately after the final games of the NFL regular season rumors ran wild about what teams would court Chip Kelly, with Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Arizona coming out as early front-runners.
And yet, despite his apparent interest in the NFL (as was already indicated by his interview with Tampa Bay last season), Kelly explicitly stated that he would not enter into talks until the Ducks had played in the Fiesta Bowl, giving further drama to what was an already intriguing BCS Bowl.
If things seemed hectic before Oregon’s victory, the rumors surrounding Kelly after the Ducks’ second-straight BCS Bowl win were mayhem. Immediately Kelly was reported to have meetings scheduled with several NFL teams, with Cleveland and Philadelphia once again emerging as top candidates.
Then things started to get very interesting.
As was reported by one NFL analyst and sourced by several local, regional, and national productions, Chip Kelly was set to be the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Oregon fans began to write their goodbyes and look towards Mark Helfrich as their next valiant leader. Pac-12 fans, coaches, and players began to rejoice as they saw a possible chink in the armor in an Oregon program that is quickly becoming a dynasty.
Cleveland Leaves Empty Handed
And, almost as quickly as the initial rumors of Kelly heading to Cleveland were “justified”, the Browns were leaving Arizona empty-handed and still looking for their next head coach. And they say sensational journalism is dead. But no worries, the guys who inaccurately reported the rumors are part of the big networks that fans feel obliged to worship.
Anyways, Chip Kelly was then meeting with the Eagles, a team in desperate need of a new head coach after firing Andy Reid. Though there was some speculation that this transition would be much easier because of the mobile Michael Vick, the rumors surrounding Kelly’s departure to Philadelphia were never as “credible” as those in relation to Cleveland.
Staying with the Ducks
This is when people began to realize and hear that Chip Kelly would remain Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks, a move said to be made partially possible because of the lobbying of Nike co-founder and University of Oregon graduate, Phil Knight. Though this is surprising to some, Kelly’s decision to remain at Oregon echoes his original statement that he would be meeting with NFL teams to go on a fact-finding mission; he was never actively looking for an NFL position. Rather, the NFL jobs were looking for him.
Whether it not be the right time or Kelly’s infatuation with his signature Oregon visor, the man who has brought the Ducks to new heights will likely be remaining with Oregon for the foreseeable future.
The move may also quell the nerves of some Duck fans in relation to the pending sanctions the football program may face after a hearing the University is slated for in Spring. Many believed that Kelly would see this as an opportune moment to bolt to the NFL while avoiding any direct retribution from the NCAA (somewhat like Pete Carroll).
Though this is all speculation, Kelly remaining at Oregon may indicate that the assumptions of harsh sanctions that many are anticipating are based on zero facts, something Duck fans around the world would like to be proven true in the coming months.
But, in the here and now there is only one thing that is certain: Chip Kelly will remain Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks and continue to build a program that is establishing itself as one of the best in the nation.