Chip Kelly to interview with Bills

Updated: January 4, 2013, 12:01 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Oregon coach Chip Kelly won't have much time to rest after the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

On Friday, Kelly has an interview scheduled with the Buffalo Bills for their coaching vacancy. The interview will take place in Arizona, a day after the Ducks defeated Kansas State 35-17 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, a league source confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Cleveland Browns will also interview Kelly on Friday, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday.

USA Today first reported that Kelly was scheduled to interview with Buffalo.

Bills newly promoted president Russ Brandon and front-office brain trust have been in Arizona since Tuesday conducting their coaching search.

According to the Bills' website, the team interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton on Wednesday, a day after meeting with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, who was fired Monday.

The Bills also are scheduled to interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Saturday. Former Bears coach Lovie Smith also is scheduled for an interview over the weekend, a source familiar with the situation confirmed.

[+] EnlargeChip Kelly
AP Photo/Don RyanChip Kelly will interview for the Buffalo Bills' coaching vacancy on Friday.

In four years at Oregon, Kelly has a 45-7 record, and is known for his up-tempo offense that has transformed the Ducks into a national power. He is regarded as one of college football's prime candidates for an NFL coaching job this offseason.

Kelly also has been linked as a candidate for the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.

According to several reports, Browns CEO Joe Banner is already in Arizona and also intends to interview Kelly.

Kelly has been deflecting questions about his future all week. He did so again Wednesday when asked if he expects to be contacted by NFL teams in the days ahead.

"I don't expect anything," Kelly said. "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."

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens confirmed at least one NFL team has requested permission to speak to Kelly. Mullens said he asked that interested teams be respectful of Oregon playing in a bowl game and allow the Ducks to enjoy their moment, and NFL teams have complied.

Mullens said "our first priority is obviously to retain Chip." He said Kelly's buyout is upwards of $3 million and that there are five years left on Kelly's contract, but if Oregon wins Thursday, the contract rolls over with an extra year.

If the Ducks do lose Kelly to the NFL, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich will be promoted to head coach, sources confirmed to ESPN. That decision was first reported by USA Today.

The Bills are in the midst of their fifth coaching search since 2001 after Chan Gailey was fired Monday after three consecutive losing seasons.

Although it's unclear how many more candidates they have lined up, the Bills won't be done conducting their search out West after meeting with Kelly.

Horton already has interviewed twice with the Cardinals and once with the Browns before revealing to reporters at the Cardinals' facility that he was set to meet with the Bills.

"I'm excited about the opportunity here, and the fantastic interview I had with Cleveland last night, and am going to try to knock Buffalo's socks off," Horton said.

Horton and Whisenhunt not only coached with the Cardinals but also previously coached in Pittsburgh.

That makes them both quite familiar with Bills assistant general manager Doug Whaley, who is a member of the team's search committee. Whaley, who is being groomed as GM Buddy Nix's successor, spent nine seasons working as a Steelers scout before joining the Bills three years ago. He is a Pittsburgh native, as well, and played his college ball at Pitt.

Whaley spoke highly of Whisenhunt and Horton on Tuesday.

"We go way back. We've won some Super Bowls together, so I have high regard for their coaching acumen," he said. "I don't think it will make a decision on if they're going to be our coach, but I can shed some insight on how they performed when I was with them and as persons."

Information from ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, ESPNChicago.com's Jeff Dickerson and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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