Why Mike Bellotti's Retirement from the Oregon Helm Is Bittersweet

David HedlindAnalyst IIMarch 13, 2009

It doesn’t matter how long they talk about it and you try to prepare yourself for it, it still comes as a shock.


I feel like I just got punched in the stomach and my dog ran away at the same time. 


After 14 seasons, Oregon Ducks head coach Mike Bellotti is calling it quits.  He will take up new residence in the athletic director's office. 


Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly will take the reigns as head coach. 


The transition was announced last December, but there was never a date set as to when it would all happen. 


Kelly will be the head coach in spring practices when they start at the end of March.


Bellotti will work with current athletic director Pat Killkenny until June 30.  Bellotti will then take office on July 1. 


I grew up in the Rich Brooks years.  I have only known two coaches at the University of Oregon.  The first built the program up to where they were playing in bowls.  Brooks was a good building coach.


Bellotti took that success and built on it.    


Bellotti has a record of 116-55 as the head coach of the Ducks.  He is the all-time winningest coach in Oregon history. 


He has taken Oregon to 12 bowls in 14 seasons. 


Bellotti guided Oregon to their highest ranking in school history, No. 2 in 2001.  Bellotti is also the only coach in Oregon history to win 10-plus games in a season. 


The time was right for him.  He leaves on a high note.  Oregon finished 2008 with a 10-win season, a top 10 ranking and wins over rival Oregon State and a Holiday bowl win. 


He leaves the team in good shape to a hand picked successor.  Kelly has been the offensive coordinator for two season and Oregon has finished with off the charts offensive numbers. 


Still, as good a coordinator Kelly has been, he is an unproven head coach.  Then again, for the most part, so was Bellotti when he took over for Brooks. 


Thank you, Mike Bellotti, for everything you have done.