Oregon Ducks Football: 5 Things That Will Keep Chip Kelly Up at Night
Chip Kelly goes for more fourth-down conversions and two-point attempts than a Madden-playing 13-year-old who forgot to take his Ritalin. Timeout and pro-style offense are words so foreign to Kelly that they might as well be in Swahili. It's even rumored that the size of Kelly's cojones could make Chuck Norris blush.
Yet for all the suaveness, gravitas and cooler-than-thou demeanor that Kelly exhibits, deep down there are things that keep Kelly up at night—and I'm not talking about the 4 A.M. calls from Erin Andrews.
He would never admit it, but Chippy Longstocking has worries, fears and doubts just like the rest of us mere mortals. And with the 2012 season just around the corner, those trepidations only continue to grow.
Here are Kelly's five biggest reasons to reach for the sleeping pills each night.
1. Matt Barkley's Return to USC
After USC pulled off the upset win over Oregon at Autzen last year, Kelly told reporters that Matt Barkley was the best quarterback the Ducks had faced all year.
Guess what? Heeee's back. The Blonde Bomber enters the ring for Round 3 of what is quickly becoming one of the most heated and anticipated matchups in the nation.
After Barkley's record-setting 2011 campaign, in which he finished with 39 touchdowns, over 3,500 yards passing and only 7 interceptions, Barkley only needs a BCS Bowl win under his belt to enter the greatest-USC-quarterback-of-all-time conversation.
With no more of those pesky NCAA bowl ban regulations standing in his way, you better better believe that Barkley is on a Tebowesque mission from the Big Guy Upstairs to fulfill his Crystal Ball destiny come January.
And if he has to step on a few Ducks on his way, so be it.
2. Tra Carson's Transfer Decision
Tra Carson's decision to transfer to Texas A&M from Oregon completed the triumvirate of Texas running backs hightailing it out of Eugene.
With the swift exits of Lache Seastrunk, Dontae Williams and Carson, Oregon is left with a surprisingly shallow depth chart at running back.
The RB position in Oregon's offense is like the guidance system in a missile—remove it and you end up with something resembling a North Korean rocket.
Because Oregon runs so many offensive plays, the ability to substitute a multitude of quick running backs is essential to the entire system. After Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, a lot of question marks surround the position.
Kelly most likely did not expect he would have to play Ayele Forde or Kenny Bassett this time last year, but he'll have to figure out a way to make it work.
3. Willie Lyles
Willie Lyles is like Snooki, Nancy Grace and Paris Hilton all wrapped up into one—no matter how much Kelly tries to ignore the man, he just won't go away.
It's of course been widely reported that Oregon paid Lyles $25,000 for bogus recruiting materials. As more detailed information has surfaced, it's fairly obvious that the money exchanged hands in order to take advantage of Lyles' personal relationships with a multitude of high-profile Texas recruits.
At this point, it's clear Oregon will be punished by the NCAA in some way for the recruiting violations that occurred from 2008-2011, but whether that translates to scholarship reductions or bowl bans remains to be seen.
4. The Eugene Police Department
Wouldn't it be nice if the only questions Kelly has to answer this year are about transgressions that take place on the field?
Oops, too late.
With Josh Huff's arrest, the Oregon football program has continued its track record of producing dumb and dangerous Ducks during Kelly's tenure.
Kelly has shown in the past that he truly does care about character over anything else. His decisions regarding Jeremiah Masoli and Cliff Harris, in particular, were admirable given the importance of those players to the team.
No matter how star studded the player, no one is above Chip's Commandments, but it appears that unless the Occupy protesters become a bigger distraction, the Eugene police force will continue to give Kelly headaches.
5. The NFL
Kelly reaffirmed his commitment to Oregon by turning down the head coaching job of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in January, but I have no doubt that he still thinks about coaching in the NFL every day.
In order to truly shut up his critics and prove once and for all that Oregon's style of play is not just a gimmick, Kelly must bring his brand of football to the pros.
I have no idea if a hyper-speed spread offense could work in the NFL, and I'm guessing neither does Kelly.
But if and when the NFL comes knocking at Chip's door again, the decision to again turn down one of only 32 such jobs in the world becomes that much more difficult to justify.