In what could have huge significance for every team in the Pac-12 — but especially those in the North Division, such as the Huskies — there are lots of reports out there tonight that Oregon’s Chip Kelly is negotiating with the Tampa Bay Bucs. (And it’s important to note the distinction that all the reports say he is talking to them, not that the deal is done).
Portland TV station KGW had the first report and a few others then joined in that Kelly has been talking to the Bucs this week and a deal could be done in the next 24-48 hours.
This has been a fast-moving story so it could change by the time I get this posted — as I type this, no official confirmation or denial of any sort.
Obviously lots of ramifications here — it’s likely Oregon would turn first to Chris Petersen of Boise State, a former Oregon assistant, and go from there. Kelly’s system is so unique that it’s hard to figure just how well the talent Oregon has would adapt to whatever a new coach might bring. Most recruiting analysts would tell you Oregon has recruited pretty well of late, so assuming Oregon drops like a rock without Kelly is probably risky.
But no doubt, a Kelly departure would shake up the conventional wisdom of what was thought about the Pac-12 North just a few hours ago — that Oregon is the overwhelming favorite. And it also on paper makes it look that much better that Washington locked up its new assistants as quickly as it did. (And there would also be lots of potential recruiting ramifications, as well. Hard to assess those so soon after the initial news breaks, but with just 10 days to go to LOI Day, unquestionably this makes the recruiting battles the rest of the way potentially that much more heated).
ESPN.com’s Ted Miller has a few good thoughts here.
UPDATE — As of about 8:30, several outlets have reported that it’s a done deal and Kelly is gone.
One thing to recall with the timing is that January is when NFL teams make coaching changes, so any college coach leaving for the NFL invariably does so in this month. That said, this is a little later than usual, and with the LOI Day on the early side as well — Feb. 1, the earliest it can be — the Ducks will have to move quickly to keep their class together.
There are lots of assistants on that staff that are more “Oregon guys” than “Kelly guys”, meaning they’ve been there forever and may be more apt to stay, which might help. But hard to know until you see who all leaves and stays and who Oregon hires next.
Another quick thought is that this is really turning into a bad year for USC — for USC, anyway — to have 10 fewer scholarships. A lot of the recruits being thrown back into the mix due to all the various coaching turnover the last few weeks might just have been done deals at USC in previous years. But with USC having to be really selective, there are more guys available for everyone than usual, and more high-end players who remain uncommitted.
Certainly, in a year when UW is trying to make a late push to bolster a somewhat struggling class, it could hardly have asked for a better turn of events. We’ll see now if the Huskies can take advantage.
One of the main players involved in all the coaching turmoil is safety Shaq Thompson of Sacramento. He’d been committed to Cal but opened things back up when Tosh Lupoi left. He’d then been reported as really considering Oregon along with UW and Cal, and was reported to have had an in-home visit scheduled tonight with Kelly. But Kelly canceled those visits for what are now obvious reasons.
There will obviously be a lot more fallout in the days and weeks ahead.