Bellotti: 'Inevitable' that Chip Kelly leaves for the NFL

Is Chip Kelly a goner to the NFL? His former boss thinks so, at least eventually. (US Presswire)

EUGENE, Ore. -- Former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said Thursday it is “inevitable” that Chip Kelly one day leaves the school for the NFL.

Bellotti was one of two people close to the program who told they don’t believe Oregon will be able to keep Kelly if the NFL comes calling again.

“There are nine chances in 10 if he wins out [this season] he’s gone,” said another source who did not want to be identified.

Kelly flirted with and eventually turned down the Tampa Bay Bucs last offseason. His Ducks are 9-0 and ranked second (third in the BCS) heading into Saturday’s game at Cal. Kelly’s success, along with that of former college coaches Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano in the NFL, has led to continued speculation about the Oregon coach.

After leading the Ducks to consecutive Pac-12 titles including a national championship berth, there aren’t many -- if any -- college jobs that would be a step up for Kelly.

“It’s just inevitable that he will eventually be in the NFL,” Bellotti said. “Chip is one of the ultimate competitors and he sees that. It actually surprised me he changed his mind [with the Bucs] last year.

“Whether they get to the national championship and whether they win the national championship, I don’t know. To think he’ll stay there when ultimately his idea of top jobs is to get to the Super Bowl, it won’t happen, unfortunately, at the college level.”

Bellotti, who spent 14 years as Oregon’s coach, hired Kelly away from New Hampshire to be his offensive coordinator in 2007. Kelly took over the head coaching job when Bellotti stepped down to become Oregon's athletic director in 2009. Bellotti left the university in 2010 to become a game analyst for ESPN.

To say that Kelly has revolutionized the game would be an understatement. In four seasons, he has developed one of the most productive offensives in the game’s history. The Ducks are chasing a second BCS title game berth in three years. Kelly is 43-6 in his fourth season heading into Saturday’s game at Cal.

When told of Bellotti’s comments, Kelly smiled and said, “I have no reaction. What we do here is all I’m focused on … We’re not talking about where we’re going. We have a one-week mission. Our mission this week is Cal. You need to narrow down your focus more nine games in.”

The second source was asked if the school would be able to keep to Kelly: “I don’t think so. I wish we could. He’s a friend. I want him to be happy. I would like to think he’s got the best college football job in America. He clearly has all the tools that one could ever need.

“Once you get to the top of the mountain, there’s one other mountain for him to climb.”

The source did not want to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the subject and the person’s relationship with the school. 

“He’s done amazing things for Oregon,” the person said. “They should change the name of the town quite frankly.”

Earlier, former Oregon quarterback Nate Costa told's Bruce Feldman that he believes Kelly will be in the NFL by 2016

Bellotti said Kelly would have no problem adjusting to the NFL. He cited former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Ross’ transition to the pros.

“They were running some form of the option at Georgia Tech,” Bellotti said. “My own thought was, ‘How can he be successful?’ He didn’t run the option in the NFL. He [Ross] was a good football coach.”

Kelly, 48, has six years remaining on a contract that automatically rolls over to another six years when he achieves a certain win total each year.

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Dennis Dodd has covered college football for CBS Sports since it was CBS SportsLine in 1998. He is one of only seven media members to attend all 16 BCS title games and has chronicled conference realignment... Full Bio

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