The Chip Kelly-to-Florida rumors may soon have fire to go with all that smoke.
Mark Long of the Associated Press reported Kelly met with Florida officials Sunday to discuss the vacancy and appears to be the favorite for the job. Athletic director Scott Stricklin and five other members of the Florida staff reportedly flew to New Hampshire to woo the former Oregon and NFL head coach.
"We continue to have very productive conversations related to our football team," Stricklin told reporters. "We've got a process we're going through. There will probably be some more productive conversations in the days ahead. Lot of interest in the job."
Kelly, 53, last coached the San Francisco 49ers during the 2016 season. He went 2-14 in his lone campaign in San Francisco and was 28-35 in four seasons as an NFL head coach, three coming with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles run began with consecutive 10-6 campaigns before falling apart in 2015 amid internal tussles regarding personnel control, among other things.
Kelly became known as one of football's foremost offensive innovators at Oregon, where he went 46-7 in four seasons. The Ducks won three conference championships, played in a then-BCS bowl game in each season and went to the national championship game in 2010. They finished in the AP Top Five each of his last three years.
Florida is looking to replace Jim McElwain, who was fired midway through a disappointing 2017 campaign. McElwain went 22-12 during his two-plus seasons but struggled to revamp one of the country's worst offenses. Florida finished outside the top 100 in offense during McElwain's entire tenure.
The Gators have by and large struggled to find offensive success since Urban Meyer left the program following the 2010 season.
Kelly at the very least has the resume and pedigree as an offensive innovator to make him a worthwhile gamble, even if college football has caught up with some of the advances he helped spearhead.