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With rumors swirling of Kelly’s departure, Oregon keeps its focus in Fiesta Bowl

Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly is greeted with a bucket of gatorade by Bryan Bennett and Michael Clay after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats at the Fiesta Bowl football game in Glendale Reuters

The Fiesta Bowl was, in fact, treated as a party — a going away party for Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly’s name has become surgically attached to the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles in recent weeks. Both organizations are reportedly in Glendale, Ariz., for the bowl game in an attempt to steal Kelly away from Eugene and into the NFL. They’ll have Oregon’s permission to speak to Kelly too.

From the moment Kelly turned away the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago, everyone — players, Oregon’s administrators, fans and media alike — knew this time was coming again. Hot coaching commodities have windows of opportunity and Kelly’s is wide open right now. The thought of Kelly departing Oregon for the pros surely weighed on those collective minds, and perhaps on Kelly most of all.

Yet through the distractions, Kelly did the one thing for which he’s best known: keeping his focus on the task at hand. “Win the day” is not just a cliché for the Ducks’ head coach. Neither is the “next man in” philosophy.  It’s what he personally practices and asks of everyone involved with the program. As a result, Oregon’s identity has been closer to that of a machine rather than a football team over Kelly’s four years as head coach of the Ducks.

The focus was apparent Thursday night when the No. 5 Ducks knocked off No. 7 Kansas State 35-17. On the opening kickoff, De’Anthony Thomas darted around defenders for a 94-yard touchdown run. Immediately, Oregon converted a two-point conversion by catching K-State off guard.

That’s focus (or, speed).

Up 22-10 heading into halftime thanks to a more Oregon-esque 45-second drive, Kelly still wasn’t satisfied. “I have to call a faster game,” Kelly said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “That’s on me.”

That’s focus (or, logistics).

The Ducks then made excellent halftime adjustments along the offensive line and running back Kenjon Barner finished with 143 yards after a sluggish first two quarters.

That’s focus (or, great coaching).

These are just examples of why Oregon is going to be fine if Kelly leaves for the NFL. His players don’t fear his departure. In fact, they respect that their coach seeks to win at the highest of levels because it’s a quality they all possess as competitors. It helps that the university also has a plan. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is reportedly the next-in-line to grab the reins should Kelly take his final bow. Per USA Today‘s George Schroeder, Helfrich is a pure cut from Kelly’s philosophical cloth.

He can finish Chip’s sentences,” a source told Schroeder about Helfrich. “He’s been in that environment long enough (to succeed). It’s a leap of faith but it’s very similar – I’d almost argue that it was a bigger leap (promoting) Chip than with Mark.”

If it is a leap, it’s a calculated one. Oregon has a brand and an identity on and off the field matched by few in today’s college football environment. So whether it’s Kelly leading the Ducks on to the field or Helfrich, Oregon is in a position for continued success even with a hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions looming.

If it is Helfrich? Well, Chip, it’s been fun. And a little too fast in every sense of the word.

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20 Responses to “With rumors swirling of Kelly’s departure, Oregon keeps its focus in Fiesta Bowl”
  1. rsmeans says: Jan 4, 2013 1:05 AM

    Kelly will most likely leave with possible sanctions and the difficulty of winning a NC at Oregon. The OC at Oregon will succeed him and given their spread personnel probably is the Best decision. Peterson will not leave Boise State which year in and year out is as good or better than Oregon and he would find most of spread players unusable in his system. I do not believe sanctions will be severe but there will be some sanctions lasting for a year or so.

  2. cosanostra71 says: Jan 4, 2013 1:37 AM

    Nike U

  3. txnative61 says: Jan 4, 2013 2:04 AM

    @cosanostra 71 Yep Nike U and T Boone’s Boy’s and Mr Stanford’s birds and the Vatican’s Irish and—-your point is????

  4. lsuzilla says: Jan 4, 2013 2:22 AM

    Enjoy this moment Duck fans. Next year you’ll have a new coach AND be on the receiving end of the NCAA hammer.

  5. coryfor3 says: Jan 4, 2013 2:24 AM

    To swoon him? Better check a definition on that one. You mean woo him?

  6. joregon says: Jan 4, 2013 2:37 AM

    I don’t have a problem with Nike U. If it wasn’t for the University of Oregon there would be no Nike.
    It was the track coach that designed the shows Phil sold.
    Imagine if the University of Florida hadn’t sold Gatorade to a huge Corporation, and instead found a young alum willing to do the work.
    If it wasn’t for Oregon, Phil Knight wouldn’t have his Billions. As it is Oregon doesn’t get anymore than any successful program gets from their alums.

  7. txnative61 says: Jan 4, 2013 3:02 AM

    For the record, I think there should be Microsoft Huskies in the Northwest too—wait—-maybe they are?

  8. txnative61 says: Jan 4, 2013 4:08 AM

    Kidding aside, Nike is no small potatoes, but the big dogs in the Northwest live around Seattle. UDUB squeezed a new Husky Stadium out of a VERY tight state budget——somehow?

  9. beanocook says: Jan 4, 2013 7:42 AM

    College football is loaded w cash.

  10. cometkazie says: Jan 4, 2013 7:49 AM

    KState looked above its level last night.

    I think it was more them being overrated than O being so good.

  11. packerbadger says: Jan 4, 2013 8:15 AM

    Nike bought themselves a couple of bowl games. Lets see if they can buy their write off….er…college out of the fines and/or sanctions that they’re about to receive.

  12. montjamz says: Jan 4, 2013 8:18 AM

    Collin Klein looked out of sorts all night and his passing was anything but comfortable … They looked out manned and totally out coached… Cheers to the Ducks …. One LAST round cause closing time is coming fast

  13. omniusprime says: Jan 4, 2013 8:51 AM

    Collin Klein gave a kleine performance last night, as did the whole Kansas State team. It was nice to see Oregon show Pac-12 pride whipping the Big-12 chump handily. Oregon would beat either Notre Lame or Alabummer.

    How funny was that Oregon safety on their blocked field goal? You knew it was their night with that play going their way.

    Chip Kelly may want to reconsider going pro as he is with one of the premier college programs and will end up on some garbage NFL team like Philly or Cleveland.

  14. baredon says: Jan 4, 2013 9:05 AM

    Why would Kelly want to leave a highly successful program to try to revive a second rate NFL team. It can’t be the money…!!

  15. packerbadger says: Jan 4, 2013 9:13 AM

    baredon says:Jan 4, 2013 9:05 AM

    Why would Kelly want to leave a highly successful program to try to revive a second rate NFL team. It can’t be the money…!!
    Since Kelly has no qualms about cheating, I’m sure he and Nike can work out a deal where Nike dumps $$millions into some off shore account… in the Cayman’s

  16. florida727 says: Jan 4, 2013 10:00 AM

    I’m not so sure we didn’t watch the best college football team in America last night. Although not extraordinary, their defense is certainly sufficient. The offense, on the other hand, is otherworldly. Combine their speed, variety, and the adjustments their coaching staff makes at halftime, and it’s a wonder anyone shuts them down.

    It puts Stanford’s win over Oregon in an entirely different light too. Think about this: Stanford played a game the week before beating Oregon, so they didn’t have the benefit of the bye week giving them extra time to prepare; and the game was played in Eugene. And they only allowed 14 points to the Ducks in an overtime game? Makes you wonder how Stanford lost twice this season.

    Anyway, congratulations to the Oregon faithful. Great season. And frankly, I don’t think you skip a beat if Kelly does leave, because your O-Coordinator from all accounts is a clone of Kelly’s in terms of system, communication, etc. Looks like “the beat goes on” in Eugene for some time to come. Well done, Ducks!

  17. ezwriter69 says: Jan 4, 2013 10:41 AM

    People wildly overestimate the Nike recruiting appeal… the best class Oregon has ever had was rated tenth… last year, 22nd, this year 21st, 2013 so far 24th. They’ve recruited brilliantly for their system, but they are nowhere in the discussion for top recruiting classes, EVER, compared with USC or ANYONE in the SEC elite.
    They’ve done more with less than any program probably ever. 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 11th, and 10th in the last five years, and only one recruiting class rated as high as tenth during that time. Only Alabama has had success like that, and their recruiting hasn’t been OUT of the top ten during that time.
    Hate on, haters, but give Kelly and Oregon their due… Nike helps a lot, but it’s not like they’ve had their pick of the elite talent, that’s just not close to true.

  18. kansas525 says: Jan 4, 2013 1:11 PM

    I, like obviously many others, am wondering why Oregon is not playing for national championship. The only reason I can think of is SEC hype. Oregon lost, in overtime, to the #5 team in the country. Alabama got its butt handed to them by the #10 team in the country. Don’t give me “strength of schedule” because the SEC is proving in the bowl games, they are overrated this year.

    I am pretty sure Oregon would do the same thing to Alabama and ND that they did to K-State.

    NO, I am not a PAC 10 guy, my preference is the Big 12.

    Let’s hope ND can take care of business on Monday.

  19. thestatsishere says: Jan 4, 2013 1:34 PM

    Me personally, I’d stay.

    1. Because I haven’t won the BCS title which is one year away from me and I’d feel like I didn’t finish my commitment there.

    2. Because college isn’t as demanding of me as NFL so I can see my family more.

    3. Because I’m building a real dynasty here and have two BCS Bowls already.

    4. Because college is funner and I’m dealing with youngsters who look up to me as a role model instead of grown men just wanting a paycheck.

    That’s just me personally though.

  20. 8to80texansblog says: Jan 4, 2013 3:31 PM

    ezwriter69 says:
    Jan 4, 2013 10:41 AM

    They’ve done more with less than any program probably ever. 2nd, 4th, 3rd, 11th, and 10th in the last five years, and only one recruiting class rated as high as tenth during that time.


    UT is the Anti Oregon. Top 5-10 recruiting classes seemingly every year, and year after year of dissapointment for the tsip fans. No one does less with more than Mack Brown at UT.

    With the Aggies leaving for the SEC and winning a Heisman this year, A&M has started to dominate UT in recruiting… we’ll see how long it can last and how high they can go.

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