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Friday, March 13, 2009
Kelly succeeds Bellotti as Ducks coach

Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. -- Mike Bellotti is stepping down as Oregon's football coach to become the school's athletic director, and offensive coordinator Chip Kelly will be promoted to head coach.

Bellotti, who has coached the Ducks for the last 14 seasons, takes over his new position July 1, replacing athletic director Pat Kilkenny. Kelly becomes coach on March 30, the opening day of spring practice, the school announced Friday.

The moves first were announced in December, but no timetable was set for the transition.

Bellotti will serve in the interim as senior counselor to Kilkenny, who will step down June 30.

Oregon's athletic department scheduled a news conference Saturday to discuss the transition. Bellotti would not comment until then.

Bellotti, 58, has gone 116-55 as coach of the Ducks. This past season Oregon went 10-3 with a 42-31 win over Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl. The Ducks finished the season ranked No. 10.

The announcement Friday came as a surprise. Many assumed Bellotti would coach for at least one more season. As recently as the national letter-of-intent day for recruits, he said he had not made a decision but hinted it could come this month.

Bellotti said he had to sit down with Kilkenny and Oregon president Dave Frohnmayer to discuss what the position entailed.

"I have an understanding to a degree but I really don't know some of the inner workings," Bellotti said at the time.

Frohnmayer is retiring at the end of June after 15 years at Oregon. On Friday the university announced that University of Kansas provost Richard Lariviere will succeed him.

Bellotti informed the team of his decision Friday morning.

Under Bellotti, the Ducks have gone to 12 bowl games. In 2001 Oregon won 11 games, including a 38-16 victory over Colorado in the Fiesta Bowl to finish ranked No. 2.

Bellotti joined the Ducks as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Rich Brooks in 1989.

Kelly, who has been at Oregon the past two seasons and designed the team's spread-option offense, becomes the Ducks' 30th coach, and the third in the last 33 years.

Kelly, 45, made an immediate impact when he arrived at Oregon, helping turn quarterback Dennis Dixon into a Heisman Trophy contender.

"I feel like I've been put in a great situation. Basically a lot of this was at my suggestion, because of Chip's popularity and the job he's done for us," Bellotti said back in December.

This past season, Kelly adjusted the offense through a series of quarterback injuries. Oregon lost its projected starter, Nate Costa, shortly before the start of the season. Backup Justin Roper took over, but injuries forced the team to turn to junior college transfer Jeremiah Masoli and true freshmen Chris Harper and Darron Thomas.

Masoli eventually landed the starter's job, finishing with 1,744 passing yards for 13 touchdowns. He ran for 718 yards, breaking the Oregon's quarterback record of 644 yards set by Reggie Ogburn in 1979.

The Ducks last season were ranked second in the nation in rushing, averaging 280.1 yards a game, and seventh in both total offense (484.9 yards per game) and scoring (41.9 point per game).

Kilkenny was named AD in February 2007 and said at the time he planned to serve in that position for two years.

A prominent booster, Kilkenny has spearhead plans to build a new basketball arena to replace venerable McArthur Court.