"It's a special place with special people. They accepted me six years ago when I was at New Hampshire. Not many people knew about me. Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot." -- Former Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly about three weeks ago
A lot, but apparently not everything.
In a somewhat surprising reversal of course, after saying "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Cleveland Browns a couple weeks ago and reportedly citing his comfort level in coaching the college game, Oregon head football coach Chip Kelly has decided to move on to the NFL and, presumably, bring his space age, breakneck tempo offense with him, or at least some variation of it.
What does this all mean, and why is it happening?
4. The NFL revolution I said it in my piece on Tuesday lamenting the Texans and their glacial pace at which they play -- the teams remaining in the NFL over the last weekend (other than the Texans), by and large, play with speed. Fast and mobile quarterbacks (San Fran, Seattle), an army of fast wide receivers (Green Bay, Atlanta), fast tempo (New England). This is the wave of the future, and Chip Kelly's system was the gold standard for this at the collegiate level. It will be fascinating to see what kind of doors this opens for college coaches going to the NFL. Sure, Harbaugh and Carroll are having success in the NFL and doing so using non-traditional quarterbacks, but for the school of "spread," real up tempo football, Kelly represents the first coach of this kind to make the leap. How will his success (or lack thereof) effect the NFL's view on guys like Kevin Sumlin or Dana Holgorsen?
(My only tactical request to Kelly: PLEASE keep doing the thing where you go for two after the first touchdown. It's different, it's jarring, and it works more often than not.)
3. Michael Vick (possibly) Slated to make $15.5 million (non-guaranteed) in 2013, conventional wisdom prior to the Kelly hire was that Vick would be released and the Nick Foles Era would begin. 2012 was a nightmare season for Vick with the usual rash of injuries and an abnormally high number of turnovers, oftentimes in horrible spots (as if there's a good spot for a turnover). Now, there should be a legitimate debate as to what Kelly and the Eagles do with Vick. Let's start with the fact that at $15.5 million, they simply can't bring him back at that number because the salary cap kills them. The Eagles are going to be over the cap by a considerable amount (reportedly $18 million). However, if the two sides can arrive at a more reasonable number, don't you think Kelly would love to see what he can do with a dynamic athlete like Vick at quarterback with all of those weapons? And if you're Vick, if the dollars are relatively equal, wouldn't you like to write a happy ending and revive your career in an exciting system in the city that was there for you when you got out of jail instead of playing out the string in Buffalo or Arizona? Kelly's first big decision (and it's probably already made in his mind) will be what to do with Vick.
2. Mark Helfrich Word out of Eugene is that Kelly's replacement will be his offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich, which is the same door that Kelly went through in securing the head coach position after Mike Bellotti retired four years ago. Given where the Ducks are in the recruiting cycle this year, and a likely desire to keep the same system in place (among fans and recruits), this is probably the best route to go. That said, if you're looking to apply for the head coach position, there is still a link to do so online.
1. Eagle myopian bettors As expected and as they usually do, Vegas reacted quickly to the news of Kelly's departure from Oregon. If you were a particularly myopic Philadelphia Eagles fan (which you would have to be to lay a Super Bowl wager on them considering they were 4-12 last season), and you locked in on the Eagles after the 2012 season ended, Kelly's arrival brought good news for you:
With Kelly at the helm, the Eagles went from 50-to-1 to 30-1 to win the 2014 Super Bowl at the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino SuperBook.
John Avello, executive director of the Wynn sports book, trimmed the Eagles' 2014 Super Bowl odds from 30-to-1 down to 22-to-1.
We call that VALUE, kids. (Actually, we call betting on the Eagles to win the Super Bowl LUNACY, but whatever.)
Overzealous Oregon fans who threw down on the Ducks to win next season's BCS title weren't quite as lucky:
The Ducks, on the other hand, saw their odds of winning next season's BCS championship lengthened from 5-to-1 to 8-to-1.
Oregon opened as the second favorite behind Alabama (5-to-2) to win next season's title. Ohio State is now the second choice at 6-to-1. Stanford and Florida have both jumped from 20-to-1 to 15-to-1.
4. Monte Kiffin As Lane Kiffin miraculously and inexplicably rose through the ranks of head coaching with a terrible stint in Oakland, a one year scorched earth stop in Knoxville, and his eventual ascension to head coach at USC, his old man Monte eventually came along for the ride, cashing seven figure pay days and coordinating some very average defenses. In his three games against Kelly while at USC, Kiffin's defenses surrendered an average of 601 yards and 50 points per game. When the elder Kiffin took the Cowboys defensive coordinator position last week, he probably breathed a sigh of relief that he was finally rid of Kelly. Well, not so fast, my friend...Kiffin just aged 10 more years, which would makes him roughly 160 years old now.
3. Notre Dame fans with heart conditions I actually found out the news about Kelly when I got a text from Rice SID Chuck Pool saying something to the effect of "Hey, sorry about your coach leaving." (I'm paraphrasing, it was more clever than that, but I deleted the it.) After soiling myself from the shock and fear of Brian Kelly leaving Notre Dame (or so I thought, thanks to Chuck), I went onto the Internet and saw the headline "Eagles find their man in Kelly." After soiling myself again, this time out of anger, I clicked on the article, only to find out that it was indeed Chip and not Brian that decided to leave their employer in the dust. So all's well that ends well. Well, except for Oregon. And my pants.
2. In all likelihood, current Oregon players Punishment has yet to be meted out, but there's a decent chance that a big part of Kelly's motivation to take his coaching game to the next level is the possibility that the NCAA could be bringing the hammer down on the Oregon program sometime soon. If you aren't up to speed on the story, Will Lyles is the name of a Houston-area man who basically runs his own (illegal, in the eyes of the NCAA) player brokerage service, placing area kids at colleges around the country in exchange for cash from the schools. If it sounds shady, that's because it is, and even shadier when you consider that it's run under the guise of a high school scouting service. According to a story that broke back in July 2010, Lyles received $25,000 from Oregon for his, ahem, "services." When the NCAA heard about Oregon's involvement with Lyles (What, a pipeline of players from Texas to Oregon is weird?), they came sniffing around, which likely caused Kelly to ask Lyles to provide some sort of written scouting report to make the relationship look like something relatively clean, as opposed to the flesh market that Lyles' business actually was.
Honestly, the "hasty request for after the fact documentation" explanation is the only one that makes sense because what Oregon received was maybe the single most hilarious document I've ever read, a sham of a scouting report, with over 100 pages that were hastily cut and pasted together. No, they were LITERALLY cut and pasted, as you can tell by how crooked and disjointed the pictures and fonts are. The coup de gras of the laughable cover up document was the extensive scouting report of one player who was literally dead.
It doesn't look good for Oregon, and you have to wonder if Kelly leanred of the severity of possible punishments sometime between the rejection of the Cleveland job and the acceptance of the gig in Philly. Either way, as usual, it'll be the current and future players who deal with the fallout, i.e. bowl bans and scholarship reductions.
1. Oregon recruits This naturally throws some degree of upheaval into Oregon's current recruiting class, although if Helfrich is promoted to head coach, you'd think he'd be able to hold most of the class together assuming he plans on running the same offense.
Still, there were rumblings of Oregon recruits reopening their recruiting and backing off of verbal commitments. Also, there were recruits still considering Oregon who now need to reevaluate where they stand with UO, such as Nico Falah, an offensive tackle from California, who tweeted the following upon hearing the news about Kelly:
Chip Kelly left?!?! He was at my house 2 days ago
— Nics ✌ (@NicoFalah) January 16, 2013
Yeah, Nico, there's a decent chance Chip Kelly may have lied to you. I know, that's crazy, right? The funny thing about Falah is that he's been verbally committed to USC for months, and yet he is still entertaining Kelly in his home. It's like a game of liar's chicken!
One last time, kids -- remember my advice from the post about Tommy Tuberville walking out on those Texas Tech recruits at dinner so he could accept the Cincinnati job? No? Well, allow me to refresh your memory:
Frankly, if you're a recruit choosing a school based primarily on who the head coach is, you're taking a huge risk. And if you're a recruit choosing a school based primarily on your position coach, then you're flat out doing this wrong, and those advising you (family, high school coach, etc.) are being negligent.
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Words to live by. Ask the kids up at Oregon.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.