In one of the most baffling traditions in college football, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is fighting off rumors that he will be taking his talents to the NFL while trying to prepare his team for the Fiesta Bowl on January 3 against Kansas State.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Philadelphia Eagles are expected to pursue Kelly as soon as their season ends next Sunday:
The Philadelphia Eagles will consider Chip Kelly to replace Andy Reid, according to league sources, and multiple executives with rival teams anticipate Philadelphia making a heavy push to land the Oregon head coach.
While there will be plenty of items written about Kelly and the NFL, why not examine what it actually means for, you know, the players that he could potentially be leaving behind?
That is the side of the story that so rarely gets talked about. Everyone wants to know what it means for the coach and the team he is going to, but when it comes time to talk about where the coach is leaving, that doesn't matter.
Fortunately for the Ducks, they have such a unique system already put in place, with a group of players who understand how to run it to perfection, that even if Kelly decides to take a job in the NFL—or if the team is faced with constant questions about their head coach leading up to the game—it won't matter.
We have seen teams fall apart in the past when their coach takes another job. Cincinnati got destroyed by Florida in the 2010 Sugar Bowl after Brian Kelly took the Notre Dame head coaching job. (Granted, some of that could be attributed to the huge gap in talent between those two teams.)
There can be a ripple effect felt from the remaining coaches down to the players in a huge game with so much uncertainty surrounding the status of a head coach. If no one feels like there is a strong commitment from the leader, what is a team of young, still-impressionable minds supposed to think?
Even though it will be sitting in the back of their heads as they prepare for this game, players like quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner are too talented to let anything stand in their way right now.
The Ducks will use that high-octane offensive attack that has been a staple of the Kelly era in order to overwhelm a Kansas State team that has, frankly speaking, looked lethargic over the last three weeks of the regular season.
As mentioned with the Cincinnati-Florida Sugar Bowl matchup, sometimes talent just beats up on a strong, stable team. Oregon has as much raw talent as any team in the country. Kansas State is so dependent on quarterback Collin Klein to make the offense go that when he struggles, no one else is able to pick up enough slack to get things going.
Kelly has built the Oregon program in his image. Whether he leaves the team in a lurch or not, the players will take care of their business and capture their second consecutive victory in a BCS game.