Fiesta Bowl 2013: Will Talk of NFL Distract Chip Kelly vs. Kansas State?

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2013

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 17: Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks looks on as his team warms up before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Autzen Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The Oregon Ducks are heading into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State looking to bring home a big win in their fifth appearance in the BCS. 

The Ducks should be well prepared for the game, but the talk of Chip Kelly possible going to the NFL has to be a distraction for this team. It is a big game and the future of the program is in the hands of a number of young players. 

They want to know if their coach is going to be back next season. 

As much as this is a mental distraction, it could also be a piece of the sale to return. Win this game and the Ducks prove that despite youth at key positions, they can win on the big stage and can run for a title next season. 

This is a big distraction for this team—one that it doesn’t need heading into a game against a very capable Kansas State squad. 

Chip Kelly has been tied to the Cleveland Browns job after an report tied him to the interview process. 

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III has refused to name anyone involved in the head coaching discussions. 

Kelly has been affiliated with jobs like Tampa Bay in the past, so this wouldn’t be a new type of threat facing the Oregon program. 

There is a bright future in Oregon for Kelly, but he may have met his mark. His teams have been very good in the past and he has won a lot more than he has lost. Kelly has helped reshape offense in college football and continues to find ways to innovate the game. 

A pending NCAA investigation is still looming over the program and is something to keep an eye on. It may or may not have any bearing on Kelly’s decision. 

It’s safe to say that if he returns, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about in Eugene. 

Still, his team is preparing for a BCS game and is set to make a dent on the national stage against the Big 12 title winner. Oregon didn’t win the Pac-12, but it was able to earn an at-large bid and land in the BCS. 

That took grit and determination. It took a team that believed in themselves and their coaches. 

This team will be facing a very stout defense in the Wildcats, but the overall speed of the Oregon offense should be enough to make gaps and put a lot of points on the board. 

The Chip Kelly rumors will be a bother for the players, but they will be ready to play in this game. It may hurt their mental preparation slightly, but simply making it into a BCS game has to be big enough to motivate this team to a win. 

There isn’t much that Kelly can do to clear it up before the game, but at this point, interviewing for jobs never helps. 

Maybe Kelly is interested in the pros, but at this point what matters is how he finishes this season at Oregon. A loss on the national stage may keep him in Eugene regardless.