Oregon head coach Chip Kelly's name keeps popping up in NFL circles, and it won't go away. Last January, Kelly was actually "deep in the process" of accepting the head coaching job at Tampa Bay.
In a statement released by the school, Kelly admitted his wandering eye:
I am flattered by the interest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' organization. I enjoyed meeting with the Glazer family and general manager Mark Dominik but after numerous discussions, I concluded that I have some unfinished business to complete at the University of Oregon.
Now, according to several reports, Kelly's name has been linked to the Philadelphia Eagles.
According to a Sports Illustrated report, "Kelly is looking for near complete control when it comes to personnel decision-making power, and that doesn't appear to be available in the Eagles' organization, where general manager Howie Roseman is expected to be in charge of the roster in the post-Reid era."
Getting almost complete control is a bonus, and that is exactly what then-USC head coach Pete Carroll wanted when he left for the greener pastures in Seattle. Like Kelly, Carroll was facing the NCAA's heavy hammer and had a hot team that didn't quite meet a season's expectations when his name was linked to some NFL jobs. The question is, should Kelly go if he gets what he wants?
From a purely financial standpoint, Kelly should go. And let's be honest here, a head coaching job in the NFL is the ultimate promotion.
But what would keep Kelly at Oregon?
If the NCAA goes light on Oregon over its alleged recruiting violations stemming from the Willie Lyles scandal, then that might be a damn good reason to stay. Then again, the fact that the NCAA reportedly denied Oregon's request for a summary disposition of the case seems to indicate that a severe punishment is on its way.
Scholarship restrictions and a postseason ban are all potential punishments, and while the Ducks' pond is currently stocked with talent, it loses considerable prestige with a "cheater" label slapped on the program.
But what Kelly needs to look at more than anything else is what marked differences lie between the NCAA and NFL coaching gigs. Sure, the NCAA is a royal pain, but it's probably not as bad as what the NFL can and does dole out to its coaches.
Kelly will have to deal with agents, unions and egotistical players who can destroy team chemistry. The "fun" factor won't be as strong in the NFL, and Kelly does seem to enjoy that part of the game. True, he won't have to deal with underage players, their parents and the lures of impermissible benefits, but he will have to deal with twenty-something-year-olds who are overnight millionaires and think they are smarter than Kelly.
Philadelphia vs. Eugene? Philly may be the City of Brotherly Love, but that's only if the Eagles are winning; it can be inhospitable when the Eagles are losing. The quiet, peaceful surroundings of Eugene are a far cry from Philadelphia.
So here it goes, the open letter to Chip Kelly—and why he should stay.
Dear Coach Kelly,
Money isn't everything. Actually, it is, but bear with me here. Personal happiness and respect from your peers are what truly define a man's success. You have the college football nation's respect with what you have accomplished at Oregon, but you still don't have that natty.
Is this how you want to leave Eugene? A 1-2 BCS bowl record and the NCAA ready to dole out its punishment? If you leave, some fans will say, "We don't blame him," but deep in their hearts and behind your back, they'll be labeling you a coward for not sticking around. You'll be another Pete Carroll but for one exception: He won a national championship, and you didn't.
I know dealing with the NCAA is difficult, but wait until you have to deal with filthy-rich players who will have a lot more power than the student-athlete you are used to dealing with. His parents are annoying? Wait 'til you deal with a player's agent—and the league's union reps.
The game that you made so much fun won't be a game anymore if you jump to the NFL. This is a business. Watch The Godfather if you want more perspective. Many claim college football is a business and in a lot of respects it is—but it's peanuts compared to the NFL.
Next year, Marcus Mariota will have a year of experience under his belt. There won't be any quarterback dilemmas for you at spring practice. You'll also have De'Anthony Thomas ready to strike the pose. You want to leave that all behind? All that you've built up?
You'll be leaving the hottest cheerleaders, the craziest mascot, the noisiest stadium, the most passionate fans and the trendiest football team in America. You'll be leaving the fun-filled national signing day for the ulcer-inducing NFL draft. Instead of celebrating victory over landing a 5-star kid, you'll be dealing with bean counters who will tell you that the team's budget can't afford that player you really want.
You'll be leaving a sport that is approaching the prestige of the NFL without the one thing you really want: a BCS National Championship. You'll be leaving the changing of the guard—the playoffs are coming.
You'll be leaving teenagers who thought you would be there for them; some of them count on you as their father figure. You'll be leaving liquid steel helmets, hippies, the quack cave, kazoos and Phil Knight.
Stay for a couple more years, Chip. Give the BCS playoffs a try and endure the looming NCAA punishment. Hey, if Lane Kiffin is handling it, why can't you? Don't be impatient, and don't bail on the NCAA mess you reportedly created.
Coach Kelly, please stay. Somebody needs to challenge Nick Saban, and right now, you're our best shot. Finish that "unfinished business."
College Football Nation
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