Late Sunday night the news started to break that Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly was in heavy talks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The lure to the NFL for college coaches is one that exists. For some it’s money, for some it’s the thought of succeeding at the highest level of their sport, for some it’s the competition and for some it’s simply an out from the situation that they are in. In general, the track record for college coaches making the transition to the pros isn’t a good one (Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Bobby Petrino come to mind). Stanford’s Jim Harbaugh made a great transition in his first year as San Fransisco 49ers Head Coach as he led them to the NFC Championship Game. Maybe that’s what Chip Kelly saw as he flirted with Tampa Bay.
If I was running an NFL franchise, Kelly is not a guy that I would look at to take over as the head guy. That’s not a knock on Kelly, just his NFL experience. Which is none. Chip Kelly is great at what he does and that’s run a high powered offense in the Pac-12. Prior to coming out to Oregon as Offensive Coordinator in 2007 and then being named Head Coach in 2009, Kelly had no prior Head Coaching experience. In the long run, I believe moving to the NFL would be a mistake by Kelly and for the team that would hire him.
Sources told the Register Guard that Kelly is interested in the NFL because of the challenge and not having to deal with the NCAA. Could this be a sign that NCAA sanctions are coming on the horizon for Oregon? I think we all remember street agent Will Lyles saying that Oregon paid him to recruit for them in Texas. Could there be something more on this around the corner? It will be interesting to see.
Last night was sheer panic for Oregon fans on twitter on they were quickly latching onto the dream of trying to lure Chris Petersen to Oregon (not happening) and then wondering who they could promote internally. For Oregon fans, it was not a good night. Now that the scare has passed, what is the fallout?
The fallout should be minimal in the short-term. For one thing, Oregon now knows that Chip Kelly wants to make the jump to the NFL so there is going to be some ill-will there no matter that Chip came back. Just because your wife or girlfriend comes back to you after almost having an affair doesn’t mean you just accept her unconditionally with open arms, does it? There are going to be some uneasy feelings between the administration and Kelly and between Kelly and the players. It’s natural, people have egos and egos were hurt in this ordeal.
From a recruiting standpoint, Kelly was supposed to have an in-home visit with Shaq Thompson on Sunday. That didn’t happen so I have to think that Thompson is out of the picture for Oregon. He was dynamic in the U.S. Army All-American Game and will make an immediate impact wherever he goes. One player is not going to make or break Oregon’s recruiting class but now Kelly is going to have to work hard to keep the guys he already has committed. The timing of this flirtation could not have been worse for recruiting. The detractors will use it against Oregon but in the long-run, if Kelly stays for the long-run, Kelly can use it as a positive saying his love for college football and the University made him turn down the lure of the NFL. All he needs to do is channel his inner Urban Meyer.
For now, Chip Kelly is an Oregon Duck. I think it’s safe to say that this story hasn’t ended yet.