For weeks now Chip Kelly has been showered with questions of his NFL aspirations and his future next season: where does he want to go? Who has he spoken to? And for weeks he has replied with the motto that has given him the love of every Oregon fan that appreciates who Chip Kelly is – he just wants to “win the day.” While no one knows where Kelly is going to end up, an answer I’m not sure the man himself has come up with yet, the options have become quite clear: Cleveland and Philadelphia are the two franchises most interested in Kelly’s services, outside of Oregon of course. Where will he be winning the day next season is a tough question, and it doesn’t appear that even Chip knows the answer to that. But then again, how could he when his sole focus is to make the best out of each day when he opens those loving and joy-filled eyes in the morning?
While rumors take off like wildfire in a media driven business like professional football, Cleveland Browns CEO Joe Banner is already in Arizona and will be interviewing Chip Friday for the newly vacant Browns job. Kelly also appears to be priority number-one for the Philadelphia Eagles. The news out of Cleveland is that they may be willing to give Chip the full control and final say on roster moves that is so crucial for a guy who wants to fully implement a system foreign to the professional gridiron. Philadelphia, on the other hand, seems more reserved about unleashing the Eagles organization fully to a man that has been a head coach for just four years. One thing is clear, however – Chip’s quick ascent to the top of the college coaching ranks has earned him a shot at coaching in “The League.”
What he will do with that shot this time around is anyone’s guess. Almost a year ago Kelly met with the Buccaneers franchise, and his days in the green, yellow, black and chrome seemed all but over. But even with a $7 million offer on the table, Chip concluded that he had “unfinished business” here at Oregon (yes, he said it before Matt Barkley did). Those who still don’t believe he is interested in the NFL will only be disappointed when he steps off a plane in Cleveland, Philadelphia or whtaever team decides that Kelly could be their man.
His personality is unrivaled and his success on the field speaks for itself. In Kelly’s first year as an offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Belotti, he nearly made a Heisman winner out of Dennis Dixon and was one healthy kneecap from a nie certain national title game, two accolades Eugene hadn’t seen to that point. Since taking over the head coaching reins, he has led the Ducks to a fourth-straight BCS bowl game, including a national title birth and a Rose Bowl victory over a current NFL playoff quarterback.
The only thing holding Kelly back is an offer worth taking. While the NFL careers of numerous current college football coaches were short, and not so sweet, don’t expect Chip to take those examples lightly. He knows that in order for things to work at the next level, it has to be given to him his way. Like that Christmas present that you take back to the store because it was just slightly different from your one true want, Kelly will need to have the control to make sure his system is implemented and maintained.
Nike U, as the University of Oregon has come to be known, is easily a top-5 coaching position in college football, and according to ESPN, a top-15 football job in America. While we all know his passion for the university, the fans and his players runs deep, Kelly is also a competitor. He wants to prove that his ‘gimmick’ offense, as those who haven’t studied a minute of film on Chip have popularly named it, can work at any level due to his ability to get the rock to his playmakers in space and create mismatches either before or after the snap. His drive and desire to be the best at what he does will ultimately land him a position as a head coach in the NFL.
Who knows if Chip Kelly will be head coach of the Oregon Ducks next season? At this point, no one knows if he will be head coaching an NFL team either. The truth is, Chip will need the right combination of a program he believes he can win with as well as enough control to make sure the franchise does it Chip’s way. As Duck fans, the idea of Chip Kelly no longer being our head coach is frustrating in some senses, but it also means that he and the Oregon Duck football program are doing something right. If he doesn’t come back to Oregon next year, it will likely be due to the perfect combination of players and management capabilities offered by a special franchise. Like a good mixed drink, if there isn’t a perfect mix that makes you say, “ahhh,” he could very well be in Eugene next season.