Oregon Football Coach Chip Kelly and Other New Hampshire Awesomeness.

Joel Bechtolt@joelbechtoltContributor ISeptember 1, 2010

Oregon Football Coach Chip Kelly and Other New Hampshire Awesomeness.

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    Like most die-hard college football fans, this week can be hard to take with the anticipation of the new season causing the kind of anxiety usually reserved for 7 year-olds on the night before Christmas.

    To satisfy my jones, I like to watch lots of ESPN punditry, play tons of EA Sport's NCAA 11 video game (simulating the entire upcoming season) and reading as much as possible about the personalities and pedigrees of the folks whose names will be burned into my psyche for the next 5 months.

    While reading up on Oregon's stellar head coach, New Hampshire native Chip Kelly, I noticed that he spent 13 years coaching different positions at his alma mater, The University of New Hampshire.  Intriguing.

    I wondered what was so incredible about The Granite State that allowed it to keep an offensive genius like Kelly around for so long?

    Money?  Prestige?  Electronic monitoring ankle bracelet?  

    I decided to check it out.

    SPOILER ALERT:  Just like Coach Kelly, New Hampshire is totally awesome, innovative and revolutionary in ways I never could never imagine. 

    Who knew.

(Really) Old School: 190 Years of New Hampshire College Football.

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    In January of 1776, New Hampshire became the first of the original 13 colonies to declare their independence from Great Britain.  

    Less than a century later, long before Chip Kelly's tenure at The University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. built the first set of upright goalposts in the state and New Hampshire college football was born.

    Even Older School?  Darmouth College was also the birthplace of something called "Old division football", a soccer/rugby/mob fight hybrid of a sport that was played on the campus (the "field" actually was the entire campus, try spreading that, Coach Kelly) between the 1820's to the 1890's.  

    The games usually consisted of competition between the United Fraternity and the Social Friends, two of campuses "literary societies", though occasionally pitted "New Hampshire v. The World" where the native New Hampshire students would take on the students from everywhere else.  Though often outnumbered, it is reported that New Hampshire almost always won. 

    This could be one of the reasons that British troops never fired a shot in the direction of New Hampshire during Revolutionary War.

    What remains of Old division football history can be located here in a PDF.

    "The foot-ball sports, let those recount who must;

    Name all the victories, and who “bit the dust.”

    – William A.C. Converse  Dartmouth ’57 (1858)

Ivy League, Animal House.

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    The movie National Lampoon's Animal House was based on a series of short stories by Chris Miller, a graduate of New Hampshire's Dartmouth College and the Tuck School of Business, the graduate business school also located in Hanover, N.H. 

    The stories that eventually became the screenplay for Animal House were based on Miller's experiences while a member of the Dartmouth chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity.

    The University of Missouri was originally slated to be the setting of the fictitious Faber University, the president of Mizzou vetoed the idea after reading the script.

    Meanwhile, on the Left Coast, U of O President William Beaty Boyd had vowed to never again miss out on an opportunity to host a major motion picture again after passing on The Graduate ten years earlier.  

    Boyd ended up loving The Graduate even after hating the script, so he wisely decided that he didn't know anything about screenplays and granted the producers of Animal House exactly one month to shoot on the U of O campus. 

    The classic movie began filming at Chip Kelly's new stomping (the entire Pac-10) grounds, Eugene, Oregon home of The University of Oregon in 1978.

    The Ducks only won two games that season, but at least one of them was the Civil War against the Oregon State Beavers.

    That same year, just a little more that 100 miles up North in Portland, future Ducks QB John Joseph "Joey" Harrington was born on the same day the Animal House crew were filming this scene.  *

    Joey (Almost) Heisman would go on to lose only 3 games in his entire career as a Duck.

    *I made that last part up about the actual day.  The rest is true.

Bode Miller: Olympic Spirits and Golden Mettle.

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    Bode Miller is the quintessential New Hampshire athlete.  A log-cabin raised, home schooled, hell-raising prodigy of an alpine skier whose style, both on and off the slopes, is the embodiment of New Hampshire's motto, "Live Free or Die".

    Miller alienated his U.S. Ski Teamates by starting his own "Team America", is despised by many reporters in the Ski world for his rude, boorish interviews and nearly partied away his carrier in shameless fashion during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy, winning nothing after medaling in two different events at the 2002 games.

    The 5-time Olympic medalist's fans and supporters would insist that his behavior during the slalom event at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City was far more representative of the real Bode Miller.  

    It was there that Miller, already having won 2 silver medals in Alpine skiing, missed a gate (the little flags they ski around) during his run in the slalom event.  Upon doing so, Bode stopped, hiked back up the mountain, skiied around the missed gate and finished his run.  

    By finishing 24th due to his uber-sportsmanlike pit stop, in a sport whose winners are seperated by 100ths of a second, Bode Miller put his money where his mouth (constantly) is and proved to the world exactly who he competes for, and against.

    As a huge fan of "transcendentally classy moments in sports", this is one of my favorites.  Main reason: All the cameras were off at that point.  Bode had lost, and coverage had moved on.  It was a private moment between Bode Miller, and the mountain.

    Those that truly understand the man know that this could be said about his entire skiing career.

New Hampshire: Kingdom of Comedy.

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    One of the greatest comedians ever to have lived, George Carlin, is currently a resident of New Hampshire.  Sort of.  The first host of Saturday Night Live, creator of the "7 Dirty Words" and "Football & Baseball" routines as well as the winner of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor died in June of 2008, but his ashes were spread by his surviving family in Spofford Lake in Spofford New Hampshire.  

    Carlin attended Camp Notre Dame in Spofford during summers throughout his childhood.  It was there that he honed his standup skills winning the camp's drama award each year he attended.  

    The award's trophy was a little necklace with the comedy and tragedy masks on it that he wore every day of his life.

    Though easily the most legendary, George Carlin isn't the only brilliant comedian who calls (or called) New Hampshire home.

    Adam Sandler grew up in Manchester,  Sarah Silverman was born in Bedford and went to school in Manchester and current Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers was also born in Bedford and attended West High School in Manchester.

    Though not all that funny, native son and Oregon head coach Chip Kelly at least gives it the old New Hampshire try.  Like this.

Triumph & Tragedy: The Space Cadets of the Granite State.

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    Astronauts Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard were both proud products of New Hampshire.  Shepard, the first American in space was born in Derry while McAuliffe was an assistant to the New Hampshire Attorney General before becoming a High School teacher in Concord, N.H. where she taught social studies.  In 1984 she became part of NASA and President Ronald Reagan's Teacher in Space Project whose goal was to send an "Ordinary person" who could teach students while in orbit.  In January of 1986 Christa McAuliffe and six others were killed 73 seconds into their flight aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger after an O-ring failed on the shuttle's right solid rocket booster.

    The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord New Hampshire honors the memories of these two astronauts.

    No jokes, no comparisons, just two great Americans from New Hampshire.

Politics, Presidents and The Original Pre-Season Polls.

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    Ask any college football coach about the pre-season polls and they will all dismiss their value, sometimes in colorful fashion.  

    Ask any political analyst, campaign manager, or candidate about the electoral equivalent, the primaries, and you'll get the opposite answer.  

    Presidential primaries introduce voters to candidates, play a role in developing platforms, involve many first-time voters in the political process and eventually determine each parties representative in the general election.

    When it comes to primaries, New Hampshire is No. 1.  

    Literally.  

    As the first of the nation's primaries, New Hampshire captures the nation's attention for a few months each election year.  Candidate's campaigns can be made or broken based on their performance in the New Hampshire primaries.  

    Hundreds of millions of dollars are brought to the tourism and advertising economies of the small Northeastern State, and for a brief moment, 716,000 registered N.H. voters (40th in the nation) become the most powerful voice in free world democracy.

    New Hampshire has produced two Presidents of it's own.  Franklin Pierce, our nation's 12th President, served a single term from 1853-1857 and had to deal with a nation divided by slavery and spread thin from Western Expansion.

    Josiah "Jed" Bartlet*, played by actor Martin Sheen served as fake president from 1999-2006 on the television program The West Wing. President Bartlett's fake administration survived an assassination attempt, congressional censure and eventual cancellation due to a sizable drop in ratings after moving from Wednesdays at 9PM before Law and Order to Sundays at 8PM with new president Jimmy Smits.

    In the very real world of FBS College Football, Alabama and Oregon are ranked #1 and #11, respectively in both the USA Today and AP pre-season primaries.  Gallup and Fox News both have Ohio State at number one, followed by the Palin/Beck ticket. 

    *No relation to Josiah Bartlett, actual Revolutionary war hero, second signer of the Declaration of Independence and first Governor of New Hampshire.

Book Smart: From Classics to Comics.

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    What do J.D Salinger, DaVinci Code author Dan Brown, Poet Robert Frost, Christian Science Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy and Archie and Jughead comic creator Bob Montana have in common?

    If you answered that they're all New Hampshire natives, you'd be right. 

    Oh, and in keeping with the (somewhat murky at this point) theme, Chip Kelly pretty much wrote the book on the modern spread option offense. 

    I know.  It's a bit of a stretch.  You can hit "Unlike" now.

Telekinetic Pudge: Carlton Fisk Waves It Fair.

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    Carlton "Pudge" Fisk is from Charleston, New Hampshire and is most famous for being a Boston Red Sox catcher during the '70's.

    Fisk had this strange ability to make a baseball go from foul to fair simply by waving his arms in the direction he wanted the ball to go after it was hit.  

    With a skill like that, of course they put him in the Hall of Fame in 2000.

    Currently Mr. Fisk is a team ambassador for the White Sox and a spoon bender on the side.  I don't know which is the weirder job title.

Hard Rock State of Mind.

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    It's true that the late, great Ronnie James Dio met with the devil and made a deal that would make him the best lead singer under five feet tall in all of heavy metal.

    Steven Tyler met Joe Perry and made a deal that they would one day start a band and make the theme song for a movie that included Bruce Willis blowing up an asteroid and Ben Affleck making animal crackers walk up the naked tummy of Tyler's daughter, Liv.  Sweet emotion.

    Where did these historic meetings that would change the face of 20th Century music take place?  

    Not at the crossroads or in Boston my friend.  Those deals both went down in New Hampshire. 

Loyalty, Leadership and Leaving New Hampshire.

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    He may be the head coach for The University of Oregon, but Chip Kelly is New Hampshire football.

    Check the resume:

    Born in Manchester, N.H.

    Quarterback and Safety for Manchester Central High School.

    Defensive Back for The University of New Hampshire.

    Running Backs Coach for The University of New Hampshire.

    Offensive Line Coach for The University of New Hampshire.

    Offensive Coordinator for The University of New Hampshire.

    That's the kind of loyalty that makes us Oregonians feel lucky to have Coach Kelly at the helm.  Chip Kelly is the Anti-Lane Kiffin.

    After reading the previous slides I'm sure that it's painfully obvious that I personally don't possess the necessary football IQ to explain exactly how great of an offensive mind that coach Chip Kelly possesses.  For that story, check out Rob Moseley's wonderful article, A Beautiful Mind about the various innovations that led Kelly to become first Oregon's offensive coordinator, then Head Coach. Or this one about Chip's work with quarterbacks.

    What I do know is that Coach Kelly's two coaching jobs outside of Oregon and New Hampshire were as Defensive Coordinator at Johns Hopkins University and Linebacker Coach at NYC's Columbia University of the Ivy League.  

    So, Chip Kelly's only professional departures from his home state have been in:

    A. Our Nation's largest, greatest and most unforgiving city.

    B. Two of our Country's most prestigious research and learning institutions.

    C.  The University of Oregon.

    I believe I speak for Duck fans everywhere when I say that we are fortunate to have adopted one of Manchester's greatest sons and to have a man like him leading our young men through their college careers, in good times and bad, on and off the field.

    Thank you, New Hampshire.

    Joel Conrad Bechtolt is an artist from Portland, Oregon.  Though lacking brevity in most situations, his vocabulary is limited to the letter "O" on Saturdays from September through January when can be found at Autzen Stadium.  Joel is currently working on his next insightful article for Bleacher Report, "10 Best SEC Cheerleader Lower-Back Tattoos".