NFL teams eye Oregon's Kelly
Manchester native Chip Kelly has at least one more game at the University of Oregon - tonight's Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State - before perhaps taking his spread offense and up-tempo system to the NFL. The former University of New Hampshire offensive coordinator is being targeted by the Browns, Eagles and Bills, according to the latest reports around the country.
Kelly spent Wednesday morning on a golf course in Arizona, ripping drives at the TPC Scottsdale with New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell and Villanova assistant Tony Trisciani, a former UNH assistant. The 49-year-old Kelly inevitably was asked if he expected job offers from the NFL during a Fiesta Bowl press conference later in the day.
"I don't expect anything. I said this a million times. I'm never surprised by anything. I do not know what the future holds. I do know we have a football game tomorrow night, and I'm going to be there," Kelly said.
The Cleveland Browns have targeted Kelly as their top candidate to fill the team's head-coaching vacancy, according to multiple reports. Browns chief executive officer Joe Banner traveled to Arizona this week and plans to interview Kelly on Friday, CBSSports.com reported. A Sirius XM report also has identified Kelly is the Browns' No. 1 candidate.
The former Manchester Central quarterback will also interview with the Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, according to a Wednesday night report by USA Today. Kelly has not provided any information about the scheduled interviews. A source that was informed of Kelly's plans to meet with the teams spoke with USA Today's Mike Garafolo on condition of anonymity.
What will he decide? Kelly could stay at Oregon and perhaps land the richest contract in college football, but how many times can someone say "No, thanks" to the NFL?
For the past week, Kelly has artfully dodged those types of NFL-related questions.
"I've got a game to play. We're playing in the Fiesta Bowl. That's the biggest thing in my life. If I allowed other things to get into my life, then they would be distractions, but there aren't. Our focus 100 percent is on the Fiesta Bowl," Kelly said. "My heart is to win today and that's it. I know everybody wants to hear a different answer. And I know that at times when I don't give you guys the answer that you guys want, then I'm being evasive. I'm not being evasive."
UNH offensive line coach Alex Miller, who spent three years under Kelly in Oregon, said he received a "Harvard education of the football world" while working for the Ducks as an intern and graduate assistant from 2008-10. Miller said he has been closely following the headlines involving Kelly.
"I could see him staying in college or I could see him going to the NFL. It's interesting to sit back and watch. Some of that stuff was bound to happen if you keep winning conference titles and going to BCS games. I'm sure all those things are appealing to NFL teams," said Miller, who believes Kelly's style and systems would be effective in the NFL. "He would adapt. The offense is predicated on what type of players he has. It's not always the same thing. It's ever-evolving, and knowing him, he would find a way to make it work. He has a way of getting the ball into the hands of the best athletes and putting defenses in a bind."
In tonight's game at 8:30, televised on ESPN, the No. 4-ranked Ducks (11-1) take on No. 5 Kansas State (11-1). Oregon is averaging 50.8 points per game and ranks fourth in the nation in total offense. Kelly has guided Oregon to a 45-7 record in four seasons. Last year, Kelly nearly accepted an offer to become head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Information from the The Sports Xchange was used in this report.