Biased Oregon Beat Writer, White Cover Magazine
It sounds completely unwise. The greatest coach in college football — at the top of his game after four straight Bowl appearances, all of which resulted in victory besides the BCS final in 2011 — can demand the price he wants from any NFL team he wants, and here I am telling him to stay home. Stay in Eugene. Stay in Oregon with your Nike duds and Phil Knight’s booster cash.
Not bloody likely, right?
If this was about football, Kelly would be nuts to go to the NFL. Look at the teams courting him: Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Cleveland. The fact that Philly is the best of those options tells you just how sh*t the rest of them are.
Look at other coaches like him?
Nick Saban realized quickly that the NCAA was a better fit for him. He went from LSU to the Miami Dolphins, and a terrible record with the Floundering Fish pushed him back to Alabama — the very club about to play in Monday’s BCS Championship.
Unlike college graduates of Generation Y, Chip Kelly has actually deserved to be picky. He’s deserved to demand what he can. He deserves to think he’s the best. And so, if it were all about football, Chip Kelly should wait. He should hold out for Pete Carroll’s decline in Seattle, or Belichick’s collapse in New England, or until the next time Sean Payton gives a linebacker $15,000 to rough up Aaron Rodgers behind a Chili’s dumpster.
But, he can’t.
Sadly for Oregon, Chip Kelly has to go. The school knows it. It’s not about his opportunity or him getting his, or about history. It’s about sanctions. It’s about the hurricane of NCAA accusations about to flood Oregon’s campus. It may not result in the Ducks losing Bowl games, but it will result in Kelly’s destrcution.
“Oregon’s probable upcoming meeting with the NCAA’s committee on infractions regarding the football program’s financial relationship with prep adviser Will Lyles won’t give Kelly more incentive to stay in college. He avoided talking about that too, saying Oregon has cooperated, will continue to cooperate and he felt “confident in the situation,” whatever that means.”
A prep adviser got slightly unjustly unpaid, they say. Apparently, that passes for illegal in the NCAA. Of course, Oregon can’t cry pity, because they’re not the first.
Still… look at what’s happened to other coaches accused of anything even vaguely referred to as in violation. All of them were bigger than Kelly, and all of them fell victim.
Jim Tressel was a God as Ohio State. Actually, he was a God anywhere in America. He was the good guy to Michigan’s tilt-a-whirl of bombastic bench bosses. He was the sage of the Big 10.
“… supporters always believed he got the most out of players because he was — as the title of a 2009 book about him declares — More Than a Coach,” wrote Sports Illustrated in 2011. “Under Tressel, the Buckeyes often sat together before meetings or at the start of practice for 10 minutes of “quiet time” to read about virtues such as humility, faith and gratitude. Tressel liked to say that his teams “play as hard as we can play” but also “respect as hard as we can respect.”
And yet, after 10 seasons of those kinds of stories and more than one championship-calibre teams in Columbus, Ohio, Tressel was (essentially) forced to resigned because the NCAA dug up years of his ignorance when it came to recruiting violations.
A couple kids received $10,000 at some point, and Tressel suddenly became Napoleon in Corsica.
Obviously, these are the rules, but Tressel was kicked out of town like he killed somebody. All because Ohio State fell under the NCAA’s easily bought eye for violations so ironically embedded in their own Magna Carta.
The NCAA is all money. They just can’t look like it.
Jim Tressel is nowhere to be found, but then there’s Pete Carroll.
The Seattle Seahawks head coach should be the model Kelly follows and tries to become. While Oregon’s alleged violations (tampering with a recruiter) are fare less serious than USC’s at the time Carroll stepped away (paying the parents of Heisman Trophy winner), it doesn’t change the fact that college football’s governing body always gets their man, no matter the severity of the law breakin’.
Carroll got out just in time, and he was lucky enough to tie his tackle to the right organization. The Seahawks were just sitting around without a coach, and Carroll was first on their radar. He got to remain on the West Coast, and he got to mentor a team almost as youthful and exuberant as himself.
Right now, the Seahawks are preparing to take on the Washington Redskins in the NFC’s Wild Card weekend. Carroll drafted a quarterback in Russell Wilson, who now leads a multi-pronged offensive attack into D.C.
For Kelly, the decision gets perilous. Cleveland and Buffalo are not his loving confines of the Pacific Ocean, and Philadelphia is in the middle of some kind of self-destructive transition that only few franchises are unlucky enough to experience.
Most NCAA coaches head to the NFL with the fuzzy notion that they can return to college at any time. Of course, most aren’t in Kelly’s shoes right now. They don’t have to leave the best team in college football, and he can’t return to them after.
No other team is like Oregon, mainly because Kelly built them that way.
Chip Kelly may not have a wealth of options but, right now, he doesn’t have a choice.