Oregon has since confirmed these reports, and even off the field, things in Eugene seem to materialize at lightning speeds.
Chip Kelly has informed the University of Oregon he accepted a position as head coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles— GoDucks (@GoDucks) January 16, 2013
A few weeks ago, this wouldn’t have been much of a surprise.
A day after dismantling Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, Kelly interviewed with a handful of NFL teams about their coaching vacancies. The question wasn’t if but where, although that tune changed when the Kelly NFL Coaching Vacancy Tour waged on without much news. No decision was made, and rumors of his return began to snowball.
After listening to offers, Kelly confirmed with Oregon AD Rob Mullens that these rumors were true and he was staying. This was less than two weeks ago.
Although the situation appeared to be over—at least for another season—that was not to be. A little more than a week later, Kelly is indeed making a dramatic jump to a new league.
For Kelly, this still felt like a foregone conclusion, even after it was supposedly resolved. Obviously the timing is shocking, but the signs of a departure were clear.
He was incredibly close to taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coaching opening last year (some may argue that he did, even for a brief moment) and his fascination with the NFL was obvious. But he was content at Oregon, no question.
How couldn’t you be? The facilities, the resources (cough, cough, Nike, cough, cough) and current team in place set Kelly up to win in 2013 and well beyond. It’s a lot to give up, and the questions surrounding a dramatic move like this have already been discussed well before this was made official.
Is this the right move? Will his offense work in the NFL?
The Pac-12 will certainly help him pack his bags so we can find out, and one Pac-12 coach summed it up rather perfectly to CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman:
Text from a Pac-12 coach who I asked about Chip Kelly going to Eagles: "Great. Let the f@ckin NFL deal with him."— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 16, 2013
The safe play would have been to stay in Eugene.
Oregon has become a BCS bowl regular, an annual Pac-12 favorite and also a regular when it comes to those with a realistic shot at winning the BCS National Championship. Although many will point to the NCAA sanctions on the horizon for the Ducks as the reason for Kelly’s exit, there’s more than just a sit-down with the Infractions Committee that is prompting this move.
Is it playing a role? I don’t doubt it, but there’s clearly more to it than that.
Outside of a much bigger paycheck (numbers will be huge), Kelly will inherit a handful of fascinating offensive weapons with the Eagles. In terms of the ideal situation, it’s hard to pinpoint a better fit.
Running back LeSean McCoy and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin will likely be in place, which is crucial. The questions surrounding the quarterback situation will be a hot topic, although the thought of pairing up the electric Mike Vick with Kelly is enough to make some NFL defensive coordinators cringe.
Whether it’s Vick, Nick Foles or someone unknown at the moment, getting a quarterback capable of running his uptempo spread offense will be critical to his success. In the end, this will likely be the deciding factor in whether this move made sense. No shocker there.
For Kelly, this was indeed the right decision because this is where his heart is. We’ll find out soon enough if his heart is in the right place, but he’s certainly entering a situation that has plenty of perks. If it’s where he wants to be, and he’s getting an obscene amount of money to be there, how can we argue?
Also, what’s the worst that happens? Even if he bombs in the NFL—and I believe he’ll do the opposite—he’ll always have a spot on someone’s sideline in college. And not just any sideline, but a premier job. We've seen this cycle before, and at 49 he likely has plenty of football in front of him.
Wherever that may be.
Although his style is an unknown in the NFL, we know damn well what it can do against other universities. And as someone that has been absolutely captivated by the way he has destroyed college scoreboards over the past few seasons, I’m certainly sad to see him go. The game will miss him, and now it’s a question of how NFL teams can handle the greatest offensive mastermind we've seen in quite some time.
While I wish Chip Kelly nothing but luck as he heads east, I’ll wish NFL defenses the exact same.
They’re going to need it.