Well, this is certainly a somewhat unexpected development.
In the days leading up to and immediately after Oregon’s Fiesta Bowl win Thursday night, it was widely expected that Chip Kelly would leave the Ducks for a job in the NFL. The head coach interviewed with at least three pro teams — Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles — with the common presumption being Kelly had closed the book on his collegiate coaching career.
If that book was closed, it’s open again.
According to Peter King of SI.com and NBC Sports, “Kelly’s going to choose between Oregon and the Eagles.” One team is apparently out of the mix as Chris Mortensen of ESPN writes that the Browns ”will reboot coach search without Chip Kelly in the fold.”
Both the Browns and Eagles have flown out of Arizona, the site of the interviews, with no answers from Kelly.
The situation involving Kelly and the NFL is still very fluid, though, as Jason La Confora of NFL.com says that “the Browns and Eagles go on about their searches, with one eye still on Chip Kelly, and we’ll see what Kelly tells his team.” There’s speculation that Oregon will hold a meeting at some point Monday to apprise the Duck players of the coaching situation.
What’s been a growing storyline woven into the will he/won’t he dance, however, is that Kelly is not comfortable with the NFL opportunities presented to him and is seriously contemplating a return to the Ducks. “Don’t rule out Chip Kelly staying at Oregon. In fact, I’d say, after sniffing around more, there’s just as much a chance he stays than goes,” Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote. Mortensen takes it a step further, saying that the “[m]ajority of league folks believe [returning to] Oregon” will be the ultimate result of the latest round of flirtations.
Kelly’s return to Eugene would be a huge boon for the football program and its fans on at least two fronts.
One, obviously, is that the Ducks would retain a head coach that built UO into a national football powerhouse. In Kelly’s four seasons as head coach, the Ducks have gone 46-7, played in four BCS bowls and won three Pac-12 championships.
Secondly, this might be the last time, at least for a while and if Kelly returns, that UO has to be concerned about their coach bolting for the NFL. After pulling out of a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last January, and stringing along two NFL clubs this January, organizations around the professional ranks will likely be hesitant — if not outright refuse — to
waste the put in the time to woo Kelly in the future.