Chip Kelly Over Gene Chizik for AP Coach of the Year Honors: Controversial?

Mike KirklandContributor IDecember 22, 2010

Chip Kelly
Chip KellyJonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The AP Coach of the Year award is given to the year's most outstanding coach.

This year, that coach is Oregon's Chip Kelly.

The Ducks' Coach is definitely deserving of the title. He's leading his team into the national championship against Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers. Chizik was the runner-up for the award and multiple publishers named him as the nation's best.

Which brings up the question: Who really deserved to be named coach of the year?

Well, obviously Chip Kelly. He did win, after all. Does Gene Chizik make a case? He certainly does. 

Let's take a gander.

Chip Kelly was brought over from New Hampshire in 2007. At the time, he was one of the best coordinators in America. Upon his move to Division I-A, he found immediate success.

Two years later, he takes over as head coach. The Ducks were 10-3 the year before and found the same record in Kelly's first year. Now in his second season, 12-0 and championship bound. He has the 20th-ranked recruiting class as ranked by ESPN. Last year, he hauled in the 22nd.

Then there's Gene Chizik. Chizik was head coach at Iowa State before taking the Auburn job. He was 5-19 there. Terrible, but if you look at ISU this year with the players that Gene recruited, you will see they're winning.

Auburn was 5-7 in 2008. In Chizik's first year, they went 8-5 and hauled in a top five recruiting class. This year, they are 13-0, SEC champions and headed to the BCS title game. Auburn currently holds a low top-15 recruiting class.

Small details aside, the two are about even. Kelly took this award because of the statistics: His offense is ranked among the top in every category; his defense is ranked 18th.

All around, Oregon is a fantastic ball team.

Auburn is where they are because of offense. Gus Malzahn, the winner of the Broyles Award (top assistant coach), has led a superb offense. Cameron Newton won the Heisman and is a major reason they're undefeated. They look to finish strong and perhaps could pull off a top-5 class.

Gene Chizik may not get enough credit. Auburn can be viewed as Cameron Newton's team.

I hate when Auburn is classified as a one-man team; they are not, but Newton is clearly MVP. Gus Malzahn is the best offensive coordinator in the country. A lot of credit is passed on to him. 

But Gene Chizik is the head coach. Chizik brought both of those names into Auburn and created this success. 

The rest of this article will piss some people off.

Oregon is nowhere near as battle-tested as Auburn. Auburn won five games against teams ranked in the final polls (excluding Mississippi State, who was ranked for much of the second half of the year); Oregon won two.

Stanford fell apart in the second half and Oregon capitalized, with Arizona doing the same (though I say a case should be made that they are not a top-25 team).

Granted, Auburn had to come from behind a lot, but also note that (even though they were ranked higher) they were considered underdogs through most of the season. But if you're that good, how do you fall apart so often in the first half?

For both of these teams to be undefeated proves they have high-caliber coaches. Chip Kelly's Ducks are the best in the west. Gene Chizik showed the world that the SEC hasn't become a Saban-Meyer playground. 

Oregon played a weaker schedule. Auburn showed more heart.

So Mike, you believe Gene Chizik should have won the award?

I believe that Gene Chizik is a hell of a coach and I'm proud to say he's Auburn's coach.

But no—Chip Kelly is the right man.

Oregon was dominant in every game (except the fake injury fiasco against Cal).

Auburn, while proving to truly never back down, were embarrassed too often. No, I can't pin that fully on Chizik, defensive coordinator Ted Roof or the secondary. But somewhere, it draws back to Chizik. 

Chip Kelly deserved to be coach of the year.

Having said that, Auburn will win the national championship.