On Thursday, Jan. 3, Oregon and Kansas State will square off in the Fiesta Bowl for Chip Kelly's latest trip to a high-profile bowl game during his four years coaching the Ducks. And it could very well be Kelly's last game as coach of Oregon.
There has been rampant speculation for months about Kelly bouncing to the NFL; at the very least, he'll have the option to leave. Albert Breer of NFL Network reported Friday that Kelly will have "multiple suitors" in the NFL, regardless of whether he wants to leave or not.
Both teams being interested in Kelly is contingent, of course, on their current coaches being run out of town. Andy Reid is probably coaching his last game in Philadelphia on Sunday, so it's safe to say the Eagles will be in the market for a coach -- though things could change.
Ron Rivera's a much trickier situation, because the Panthers could finish with a better record (7-9) if they win out this year than they had last season (6-10). But there will be a new general manager in Carolina, and that could mean the end of Rivera's tenure.
If that's the case, Kelly could certainly be in play. And, as I tweeted a few months back, if Kelly ended up in Carolina it would create a fascinating pairing with Cam Newton, the guy who prevented Kelly from winning the 2010 national title.
Love/respect Ron Rivera as a D coach. Bit I want to see Chip Kelly get weird with Cam Newton.— Will Brinson (@willbrinson) November 4, 2012
I'm not the only one who likes the idea, either. Eye on College Football colleague Matt Hinton agrees.
The prospect of Chip Kelly with Cam Newton at his disposal is a true "Tyrannosaurs in F-14s" situation.— Matt Hinton (@MattRHinton) December 21, 2012
Hinton's Calvin-esque (Hobbes-ian?) description of this potential unholy alliance is spot on. Kelly unleashing his hyper-tempo, spread-but-secretly-run-heavy offense with Newton at the controls would be devastating.
Oregon freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has produced 2,511 passing yards on 69.9 percent passing with 30 touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for 690 yards on 98 attempts this year. Yes, I am aware he is not playing against NFL competition. He is still a freshman producing eye-popping stats at a highly-ranked, BCS-level program. And it's not like he's the first guy to do it, either. Jeremiah Masoli was a monster in 2009, and Darron Thomas posted huge numbers in 2010 and 2011 as well.
There's one common thread between those three guys: it's Kelly's system, and it's what turned them into destructive forces on the football field.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed watch Pro Football 360 daily at 3 p.m. ET and NFL newsletter. You can follow Will Brinson on Twitter here: @willbrinson.