When the news started to break on Sunday night that Chip Kelly was flirting with the NFL, I chuckled.
Not because that Kelly was getting out of town before the NCAA posse got to Eugene, but because I knew many on the Ducks side of things would light themselves on fire that Kelly would even consider the NFL.
Fans take their sport a lot more seriously than the players do.
Not just players but coaches as well...
I have had this conversation with my dad who briefly played pro baseball after leaving USC...by briefly I mean not even for a full cup of coffee. But because my dad at least got to interact at that level it opened his eyes early on. My dad could have left 'SC after his freshman season. He was offered a contract by a major league club but he knew he need some more seasoning in college. But my dad learned the business of pro sports. He doesn't understand fandom and has a bit of hard time that I write this blog because I never played at a high level.
It is always a fun conversation...
I tell this story (and I left it incomplete on purpose), because it shows how those who are the field look at it differently than the rest of do.
The timing is probably never good for a coach to leave. But this, as a source told me, was "abysmal." And the question now is whether people forgive. And especially if the very important people will forget.
This can go a couple of ways. To some Kelly will be even more beloved (he stayed!). Others won’t easily get past the knowledge that he had both feet out the door Sunday night.
They know he might stick around a while. But they realize he might also be gone the next time another job opportunity (or the sun) arises.
Fans want to believe that their favorite coach loves their favorite school as much as they do. But for the coaches it’s a profession, not an obsession.
Given a chance to move up in the profession, and to prove himself at football’s highest level, I don’t blame Kelly a bit for being very interested in the Bucs. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone, but a cross-section of folk have just figured that out about Kelly.
We went through this Pete Carroll. We all knew at some point that PC would go back to the NFL as I indicated in my post yesterday.
Lane Kiffin at some point will leave as well...but not today.
I have heard from a friend who is pretty tight with Oregon, He states that Kelly is tired of dealing with all the restriction that the college game has. He is also tired of the parents. This not a secret I saw this posted elsewhere but When a friend says the same thing you have listen.
This is also telling...
A few years back, Bill Moos let people know he might be interested in becoming Washington’s athletic director. Nothing came of it. But insiders say nothing was ever the same between Moos and Knight.
Not quite so long ago, in December 2007, Mike Bellotti accepted an offer to become UCLA’s coach. He changed his mind within hours, and the Bruins’ plane flew away from Eugene without him.
But by the time Bellotti reneged, Oregon already had a plan in place to promote the Ducks’ first-year offensive coordinator. The Ducks’ VIPs were already captivated by Kelly, but this is the important part:
Insiders insist things were never the same between Bellotti and Knight.
Which leads to this: How are things now with Chip and Uncle Phil?
We’ll get smiles and happy talk all around, sure. No one is going to say anything off message. But it’s fair to wonder.
There are indications — and this should not be a surprise — that Knight was upset and very unhappy when it appeared Kelly was leaving. You think Oregon has become a destination job? Knight believes it’s THE destination job. Or should be.
This shows that uncle Phil is not objective.
That's fine, I wouldn't be either if I gave as much money as he has. I have no problem with it, but it also makes the environment behind the scenes up in Eugene a little prickly....even the most ardent Ducks fan won't be able to deny that.
Kelly has put a bit of target on his chest. If he doesn't finish the business in a reasonable amount of time Uncle Phil may pull the rug out and look for someone who can.
Loyalty is earned and in Uncle Phil's eyes Chip Kelly just made a huge withdrawal from his account.
The question is has Kelly done enough in Eugene for this to be a small pebble in the road or is it a big pot-hole?
Again, as I said yesterday, for the life of me I can't believe Kelly went down this path so close to signing day. Bolt right after the Rose Bowl and it probably explained. Doing it now throws out all sorts speculation.
Anyway, I found the articles take interesting...