New Hampshire's Chip Kelly will return to coach the University of Oregon, spurning NFL offers, ESPN reported on Sunday night.
Kelly, a former Manchester Central player and coach, and former University of New Hampshire assistant coach, was "intrigued" with the vacant Philadelphia Eagles job, but decided against it, according to the report.
The Cleveland Browns also interviewed Kelly, according to reports. The Browns are still looking for a coach.
Earlier Sunday, in a conversation before Kelly's decision, Joe Yukica said he believes Kelly has the ability to coach in the NFL.
"He's well-grounded in football principles," said Yukica, who served as a head college football coach at the University of New Hampshire, Boston College and Dartmouth College.
Yukica had nine winning seasons in his 10-year tenure with the Eagles (1968-77) and led the Big Green to the Ivy League championship in 1978. Dartmouth also was co-champion of the Ivy League in 1981 (with Yale) and 1982 (with Harvard and Pennsylvania) under Yukica, who stepped down in 1986 after nine coaching seasons in Hanover.
Yukica (21 total seasons, 111-93-4 career record) never entertained offers to coach in the National Football League, but certainly knows what it takes to make the jump from the college ranks into the NFL.
"You certainly have to have the traits of being a leader," said Yukica. "If you're an owner in the NFL looking to hire a college coach, you're looking at someone who is a strong-willed person. It's someone who runs a solid program, knows what to expect from his assistant coaches and demands a consistent effort from his players."
"First and foremost, I'm happy for and rooting for Chip Kelly," said Yukica. "As everyone knows the story by now, when he was an assistant coach at UNH, Chip attended a football clinic to explain his offensive schemes. (Oregon) coach (Mike) Bellotti was there, liked his ideas and hired him to be his offensive coordinator. Shortly after, Chip becomes the head coach and makes Oregon one of the top college football teams in the country. There's no reason I know of why he can't coach on the NFL level."
Yukica said Kelly will make the right decision for himself.
"He knows what needs to be done, has already shown it on the college level," said Yukica. "If he's deciding on coaching in the NFL, he needs to start by going to a team with a solid ownership. He also needs to see what he has for personnel. You know, who's the quarterback, who are the wide receivers and running backs. If you don't have those tools starting out, you're in trouble. You have to examine all those things before you make a final decision."?If Kelly doesn't join the NFL ranks, Yukica said "he ends up back in Oregon and continues on. And that's not a bad thing considering where his program is today."NFL.com
and ESPN reported that Nike founder Phil Knight, a major Oregon booster, pushed hard to keep Kelly at Oregon.
Oregon could face NCAA sanctions as the school is being investigated for recruiting violations.Union Leader wire services contributed to this story.