After Oregon handled Kansas State Thursday night in the Fiesta Bowl, Ducks fans began to chant “We want Chip.”
Chip, of course, is head coach Chip Kelly, who has done remarkable things in his four years at the helm in Eugene, including 46 wins and four straight BCS bowl appearances.
Kelly has been mentioned as a candidate for a bunch of jobs in the National Football League and he is reportedly interviewing with the Buffalo Bills today.
He has also been linked to the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles and it’s worth mentioning that Arizona Cardinals president Bill Bidwill was watching the Fiesta Bowl live and in person from his box at University of Phoenix Stadium—also home of the Cardinals.
This isn’t Kelly’s first flirtation with the NFL. He turned down the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year before the Bucs hired former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.
It’s very possible, though, that with multiple suitors, someone will make him that Godfather offer, the one Kelly can’t refuse.
The elephant in the room, of course, is Oregon’s upcoming meeting with the NCAA. The Ducks are being called in front of the committee on infractions regarding the football program’s financial relationship with high-school advisor Will Lyles.
That certainly won’t provide Kelly with any incentive to remain in Eugene.
He has avoided that topic, saying Thursday night that Oregon has cooperated, will continue to cooperate and that he “felt confident in the situation.” What that actually means, of course, is anyone’s guess.
Kelly referred to the upcoming job interviews with NFL teams as a “fact-finding mission” and dismissed the talk that has been percolating all week by saying that his agent had set everything up and kept him in the dark because Kelly wanted no distractions leading into the Fiesta Bowl. That’s stretching credulity just a bit.
Kelly will be in a position to make big demands from his NFL suitors in terms of both salary and organizational control because he has leverage. He’s a hot property and lots of teams are vying for his services.
He’s helped by the successful college-to-pro transitions in recent years of former USC boss Pete Carroll and one-time Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh.
If those two former Pac-10 stalwarts could make the jump, why can’t Kelly?
In any case, Chip Kelly deserves credit for making Oregon a major player on the national stage, a perennial contender built on speed, speed and more speed.