Chip Kelly, the most successful coach in Oregon football history, has done an about-face and taken the Philadelphia Eagles job. The club made the announcement Tuesday.
Kelly interviewed with the Browns and Eagles for a long while just after the Ducks’ Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State. But then word got out that he was staying at Oregon instead. That turned out to be fleeting, just as an old crony of mine in Eugene suggested it might be. Kelly, after all, had never issued any sort of mission statement about his return to Oregon. It was just written as fact when the Browns and Eagles overtures fell through (temporarily).
What’s it mean? The Ducks are likely to name offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to replace him, although there’s everybody’s pie-in-the-sky favorite, Chris Petersen of Boise State, who of course, has former coaching ties in Eugene. In the short term, Kelly’s successor will have to try to save the current recruiting class (no doubt, the Ducks’ competitors for those elite recruits will be deferential about all this). Bigger picture, that person has to follow a coach who went 46-7, got the Ducks to four straight BCS bowls and won two of them.
Kelly’s departure is clearly a competitive blow to Oregon, but there was a significant segment of boosters that was less than thrilled at Kelly’s off-putting ways of interacting with them. He didn’t mingle much, and that was probably fine as long as he was winning big.
And he did.