- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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While much is made about how Oregon coach Chip Kelly doesn't like the media, he's also often an interesting interview. Just don't ask him about injuries.
Here are some highlights from his final Tostitos Fiesta Bowl news conference.
One of the recent trends in the NFL is more pistol formation. People are tracing that back to you. Your thoughts on what seems to be a melding of the NFL and college games.
Chip Kelly: Don't know. Haven't been there. Don't run the pistol offense. That's not what we do. Chris Ault at Nevada invented the pistol offense. Just retired. Great football coach out there. There's a lot of ways to play football. Pistol, don't know that very well. We're more of a spread-run team. Trends go one way and the other. I said this a long time ago, if you weren't in the room with Amos Alonzo Stagg and Knute Rockne when they invented this game, you stole it from somebody else.
Any coach is going to learn from other people and see how they can implement it in their system. Anything you do has to be personnel driven. You have to adapt to the personnel you have. There's a lot of great offenses out there, but does it fit with the personnel you have. The key is making sure what you're doing is giving your people a chance to be successful.
Just a follow-up question on your offense and how you developed your offense. You mentioned fullbacks were tough to come by. Is that a recruiting issue?
CK: Yeah, I mean, it's hard. That's a tough sell. Come to our program, you're 6-foot-2, we want you to play fullback. You're a glorified guard in the backfield, you'll graduate at 5-10, you're just going to run full speed and slam your head into people. No one is going to know who you are. We put a 30 number on you, but you should have a 60 number. There's not a lot of kids out there that want to play that position.
If you see somebody that has a build, that athletic style, most of those guys want to be linebackers. I don't fault them. I don't know if that's a fun position.
You have to look at what's out there. Seems like there's taller, leaner, basketball-type people. They don't fit well at the fullback spot. How do you adapt and adjust.
The game is cyclical. But if you're a good coach, you still have to adapt to what your players have.
We had the opportunity to get a great fullback, like the kid at Stanford a couple years ago. If you have them, you have to use them to your advantage. Going out and recruiting, we're looking for more tight ends, receivers and running backs than we are for fullbacks.
You mentioned special teams. So often that is overlooked in this day and age, especially with the explosive offenses. How key is that? Is it really a third of the game? How key is that for you specifically?
CK: Numbers-wise it's actually 20 percent of the game by how many snaps you have. The difference is how much yardage can be gained.
There's such a huge turnover. If you can have a punt that's for zero yards, you're changing field position 40, 50 yards at a whack. I think that's where the key is. It's those hidden yards, can you get a decent return. Sometimes a decent return is eight yards. It's not the highlight on ESPN. But that can be the difference in you getting in a position to score.
When you have two great teams that get matched up, the two big stats we always talk about as a group is that turnover battle and the response after turnover, then what happens in special teams. That's really going to be a key tomorrow night.
I know you're focused on this game. There's been a lot of talk about whether your offensive approach would adapt to the NFL. Have you given any thought to that whatsoever?
CK: No. I get asked the question. I don't think anybody knows any answers until someone does it. The Washington Redskins are doing a pretty good job. I forgot the name of their quarterback, but I think he's done a decent job (smiling).
The kid at Carolina has done a pretty good job.
But it depends. I don't know. I've never coached in that league. I visited practices and talked to people about it. The one thing about that, about everything, you have to have good players. Sometimes the coaching aspect is way overrated. We don't play the game.
I think college football is a personnel-driven game, so is the NFL. Your job as a coach very simply is to put your players in positions to make plays, get out of the way and go make them.
Bill Snyder is not known for liking to have to deal with the media. Talk about personally your take on that aspect of your own job.
CK: I think that's probably where myself and Coach Snyder differ (smiling). It's certainly the highlight of my day. I love when it's the first thing in the morning because it can't get any worse after this. We may have the worst ever practice (laughter).
But it's part of the game. One thing I talk to our players about all the time, I have to check myself on it, too, you have to be a selective participant. You can't choose what you do. If we did, it would be total anarchy in this world, you know, we'd just do what we'd like.
There's certain things you do that probably aren't the highest on your priority list in terms of what you have a full passion for. But it comes with the territory. You know, as long as there's insightful questions like the one you just asked, I'm very engaging.
After that answer, you're going to love this question. Your name has been thrown around quite a bit for the numerous open NFL jobs. I'm sure your players hear that. How do you answer those kind of questions from your players?
CK: I've never been asked a question by one of my players. I think one of the tenets of how we do in our program is we don't like outside influences to control our lives. It's kind of just noise to us.
They've never said a word to me. I've never said a word to them. I always believe that praise and blame is all the same.
You can't, again, be a selective participant and listen to things that are good being said about you and block out bad things being said about you.
Our team is extremely focused. If you get a chance to get inside our team, which is never going to happen, if you ever did get a chance, what we talk about, what we focus on really has nothing to do with what's going on outside. That's the great thing about coaching kids of that age. They don't get caught up in it.
I don't think our kids read message boards, newspapers. They want to hang out with each other, have a good team, excited to get back to position meetings. We're getting ready to go play the Fiesta Bowl. That's what we're excited about.
Last year after you ultimately turned down Tampa Bay, you said you'd listen to options to everybody. Do you expect to do that in the next week?
CK: I'm waiting for an offer from you. I will listen and I am excited if you do want to give me a call.
Do you expect to field some offers here in the next week?
CK: I don't expect anything. I said this a million times. I'm never surprised by anything. I do not know what the future holds. I do know we have a football game tomorrow night and I'm going to be there.
Any interesting stories that happened with you guys this week? [Oregon tackle Mark Asper saved a man from choking last year at the Lawry's Beef Bowl.]
CK: We stayed away from the life-and-death situations. Here again I thank the Fiesta Bowl people for creating good environment for us. Although I didn't go with them when they went and ate at Fogo de Chao. We had kids the next day that looked like they had meat-induced coma. We didn't have a case where anybody had to perform the Heimlich like Mark did last year (smiling).
1dChantel Jennings and Kevin Gemmell