Chip Kelly, WTF?
A part of me says any college coach anywhere would want to try the NFL. Another part says why Kelly, why the Bucs and why now? OK, so it's an NFL opening, but it doesn't mean anyone with Chip’s chops will automatically become the next Jim Harbaugh.
And not necessarily with that offense.
Oregon's coach waffled Sunday night/Monday night before staying at Oregon. Waffling would put him on a team of coaches whose roster is overstocked. Nothing wrong with waffling. If the Bucs would have hired you, great Chip. But you’ve essentially been refining, developing, running that same offense for about the past 17 years -- 14 at New Hampshire, three at Oregon. It's a great offense -- for college.
Someone will have to convince me how it resembles a winning offense in the NFL at the moment. While Kelly’s O has revolutionized the way the ball is moved in the Pac-12 and around the country, the contrived word "Tebowesque" comes to mind in regard to the NFL.
In other words, it worked in college. In the pros? TBD. At Oregon, Kelly pretty much had the best and fastest players around (until he played the SEC). In the NFL, the rules kind of bunch everyone toward 8-8. Chip Kelly is not an 8-8 guy. Neither are impatient owners. That's why you see so much turnover. Raheem Morris went from rising young star to fired in three seasons in Tampa. In 2011, he started 4-2, then lost his last 10.
Again, nothing wrong with flirting with the NFL. But it is a brutal, unforgiving life. Would Kelly have gladly morphed overnight from offensive genius to NFL pro-style robot? Doubt it. Every time a Patriots assistant leaves Bill Belichick and falters, I’m reminded of the singular talent of Tom Brady.
The Pats got lucky hitting gold in the sixth round. Would Kelly in the NFL?
Does it matter? Worst case scenario, Oregon’s coach could fall upward -- get fired himself after three seasons in the NFL and rebound with a big-time job in college. That essentially happened to Nick Saban. It may happen to Pete Carroll.
What I do know is that Kelly has a job in perpetuity in Eugene -- or until the NCAA weighs in. He is the king of Oregon, one of the top five college coaches today. A national championship is definitely in his future if he sticks around. But my first thought when the Tampa reports popped up was that Kelly must have some inside information in the Will Lyles investigation. Then I was reminded that Oregon hasn't so much as received its notice of allegations.
Kelly may have been bailing on a bad situation, one that eventually may impact his ability to succeed at his job. But at this moment it doesn’t seem like it. He came back to win ballgames and face the NCAA music. In that order. Oregon officials have maintained since the day of the initial document dump that they are innocent. Or at least not very guilty in the NCAA court of law.
What Oregon does have to worry about is the long-term plans of its coach. Kelly is now on record as looking around. He cannot be blamed. Again, the NFL makes sense for any upwardly mobile coach. There are few places in college he could or would go except the No Fun League. But there are also few places with the corporate support of Nike, which has paid off with three consecutive BCS bowls and a national title shot.
Going forward, Oregon AD Rob Mullens has to consult his List. Every AD worth his mascot lapel pin has one in his back pocket. On it, he has the names of, say, the top five candidates he would call should his coach leave. If Mullens doesn’t have his personal List, then he isn’t as sharp as I thought.
At the top has be Boise State’s Chris Petersen. Oregon is thought to be one of the few places Boise’s almost hermit-like coach would consider. He has roots in Eugene. He coached receivers there for six years before moving to Boise. The media-averse Petersen would have to deal with more, but not much more.
This is a coach who was reportedly offered substantial millions by UCLA. Petersen’s name comes up for about every major job that opens. He’s good. Oregon could do worse.
Nothing happened Sunday night/Monday morning and a lot happened. Kelly stayed at Oregon. But the emerging question is: For how long?
And does have Mullens have his List?
And would C.P. be interested?