Monday, January 23, 2012
Confirmed: Kelly is staying at Oregon
By Ted Miller
Chip Kelly is staying at Oregon.
Oregon fans ... you can now breathe. By holding your breath, you turned purple and, well, you know that's not what you want to do.
This has been confirmed by the general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were deep in the process of trying to lure Kelly out of Eugene and into the NFL this past weekend.
"His heart is with college football and Oregon and he's no longer being considered," Mark Dominik said Monday, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
A handful of news outlets had reported that Kelly was leaving Oregon. George Schroeder of the Eugene Register-Guard, however, was the first to report Kelly's change of heart.
This hullabaloo leads to two questions: 1. How long will Kelly stay at Oregon, as it is now evident the NFL intrigues him -- an idea that was just a theory before? 2. Does this provide the Ducks a boost of momentum -- he's staying because we are awesome! -- or is there some damage control to undertake?
Oregon fans got to experience what it would feel like to lose Kelly, who is 33-6 at the Ducks' helm after winning three consecutive conference titles. Some panicked. Some said, "We'll be OK." Some felt a little of both.
The first reaction of many will be that it's now clear that Kelly will eventually leave. That's not necessarily true. A flirtation that doesn't lead to a divorce can often lead to a renewed loyalty and sense of purpose. Recall that Joe Paterno was, in 1972, out the door at Penn State to coach the New England Patriots.
But Kelly is incredibly competitive, so the juice of competing at the highest level might eventually overcome him. And the non-coaching aspects of leading a major college football program also might wear him down.
Just not yet.
The immediate reaction among the Ducks' rivals was that perhaps some of Kelly's top recruits might waiver. And Oregon did lose a committed player over the weekend. Kelly reportedly missed a recruiting trip to Sacramento during his chats with the Bucs. The guess here is he'll be making a few phone calls today.
Are bridges rebuilt immediately, only with stronger materials? "He loves us, he really loves us!"
Or are questions going to linger? "He flirted once, which means his eyeballs are prone to wander."
The answer -- in some ways unsatisfying -- is "both."
Ah, but too much introspection and navel gazing won't lead to any permanent insight, though Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens now knows that his "Plan B" file needs to be kept updated.
The Pac-12 blog's advice to Oregon fans is to live in and enjoy the present, perhaps with even more appreciation for this golden age of Ducks football. Kelly isn't leaving. His 2012 team is loaded. His focus is back on winning a fourth consecutive conference title.
There will be plenty of time to fret about 2013 and beyond.