Chip Kelly: No Elephant In This Room

Chip KellyChip Kelly and his future on the sidelines in Eugene is the worst kept secret this side of a Kardashian’s affinity for celebrity, and people never tire of talking about it.

Since last January’s Tampa flirtation, the Oregon Ducks Head Football Coach’s tenure at the University of Oregon has been tenuous at best.  Neither the fact that he chose to turn down the job, nor his reasons for doing just that have stopped people from speculating that his heart is in the “league,” and it’s not “if” regarding his departure, but “when” said departure will occur.

One needn’t be John Nash from A Beautiful Mind to compute the equation equaling Chaz’ “exit stage left.”  While surprising at the time, the Tampa scenario did paint a picture of a coach reaching for the next rung of a professional ladder he was climbing at an unprecedented level.  It was only 5 years ago that a portly, unrecognizable coach named Chip arrived on the scene in Eugene to salvage the career of a once promising recruit named Dennis Dixon.  In little more than a month’s time, that same unrecognizable coach transformed Mr. Dixon from an athletic underachiever to a leading Heisman candidate, MVP of a national title contender, and future NFL quarterback.  Two years later he became the Ducks’ head coach and four years after that, possesses a resumé consisting of 3 conference championships, a Rose Bowl victory, and 4 consecutive BCS bowl appearances.  The College Football World appears to be his oyster, but while comfort and competitiveness seem endless if he stays, it’s going that appears to be in the cards for one of the college game’s hottest commodities.

More than a year ago, former NFL General Manager and present-day talking head Mike Lombardi professed his fondness for the style and mind of the current Oregon coach.  Since, his brethren in the league have taken to his assessment and pundits abound have placed Chip squarely atop the list of desirables regarding nearly every potential NFL coaching vacancy.  What were previously whispers, have now become billboards declaring the Oregon front-man “Wanted: Preferably Alive.”

So why does it continue to be news when a new source says, or an old source regurgitates the notion that the Fiesta Bowl might be his last game at the helm of one of college football’s hottest programs?  We get it; he’s interested and they’re interested in him.  So if the Philadelphia Eagles General Manager has allegedly already made contact with Chip and his representation … it’s not breaking news.  If Peter King tweets to the fact that Chip is on the top of potential candidates’ lists, again … that’s not breaking news either.  And if the aforementioned Lombardi is in fact hired as the next General Manager of the Cleveland Browns and is said to be interested in hiring Kelly … please people, it isn’t ticker-worthy, message-board-worthy, or top/bottom-of-the-hour-update-worthy.  It’s emphasizing the obvious in the face of the more obvious:  Chip Kelly is likely leaving and most have known that for the better part of a calendar year.

I know what you’re thinking; relax Wade, it isn’t that big of a deal.  But it is … to me.  I hate sensationalism, and when it’s resorted to only speaks to the laziness of the perpetrators.  Facts aren’t art, they’re not pictures or paintings, they’re indisputable science.  Painting them in a different light doesn’t change them, nor does it make them any more significant.  If there’s something new to report, report it, but until there is, quit telling me the same thing and packaging it as if it weren’t.

Chip Kelly is a great college coach and what he’s done since taking over for Mike Bellotti has been nothing short of sensational.  He took Oregon from good to great and did so with lesser talent than a lot of the teams he was overtaking.  The Ducks – while having above average talent – have never seen the level of depth you see at USC, many of the SEC schools, or any of the other “powerhouse” programs who’ve run roughshod over schools like Oregon for decades, but Chip Kelly found a way to equalize the talent through superior schemes, efficiency and motivation, and it’s those things that have made him the apple of the NFL’s eye.  As an Oregon fan you don’t want him to leave, but as a fan of all things Oregon you should equally congratulate him and wish him well if he does.  He’d be leaving the program better-off than he found it and it’s immature to fault someone for wanting to achieve more.  He’s making it look easy and in his mind it probably is, and for people like Chip; that’s no fun. 

If he goes he goes, if he doesn’t he doesn’t, but until we know for certain either way … I don’t want to hear about it.

But I know I will.

About Arran Gimba