Tell me again. Why is Chip Kelly such a big deal?

One of these guys still has a job. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

One of these guys still has a job. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Fort Lauderdale — A bunch of journalists had gathered for dinner here Tuesday when one among us, having checked his phone, conveyed word that the Philadelphia Eagles had fired Chip Kelly. This set off a lighting round of speculation: Where will Kelly land next?

“Auburn?” I offered, having heard the not-very-believable rumor that the Tigers might, if they lose the Birmingham Bowl, dump Gus Malzahn, who two years ago had Auburn in the BCS title game. Someone else mentioned the Tennessee Titans, which would make more sense, given that the club is working with an interim coach in Mike Mularkey, of whom you’ve heard, and that Kelly landed Marcus Mariota while at Oregon.

It was noted that Georgia, had it waited a month, could have landed the famous Kelly, as opposed to the career assistant Kirby Smart, to replace Mark Richt. We all laughed at this. (Georgia couldn’t have waited a month to see whether Kelly would be fired, duh.) But our lengthy conversation — which has since been seen and raised by ESPN on all its platforms — got me thinking: Why exactly is Chip Kelly such a big deal?

Yes, he made Oregon a big winner. Yes, he took the Ducks to the BCS title game. (And lost to an Auburn team coached by Gene Chizik, who was fired two years later and who was last seen presiding over a North Carolina defense that yielded 756 yards — 645 them rushing yards — to a Baylor team missing its Nos. 1 and 2 quarterbacks.) Yes, Kelly is said to be innovative in his approach to practice and his embrace of sports science.

But here’s the “but,” and it’s a big one: He’s also considered something of a bad guy. No, he’s not a convicted felon, and no, he’s not alone among coaches in having an outsize ego. Still, he ran out on Oregon when it was facing NCAA penalties — his personal show-cause sanction expired this time last year — and he lasted only three years with the Eagles, who’d once trusted him enough to make him not just coach but de facto GM.

If you’re a college team, do you want to hire a guy who’d been hit with a show-cause at his last stop? (The only other big-name college coach ever to get stuck with a show-cause? Jim Tressel after he’d stepped down at Ohio State. He hasn’t coached since.)

If you’re an NFL team, do you want to hire a guy about whom more than one African-American player has expressed doubts? (Two-thirds of NFL players are black.)

If you’re a college AD or an NFL owner, don’t you have to ask if Kelly is more trouble than he’s worth? I’m neither, but I’m asking now. I know he’s a Hot Name, but that’s not the same as being a Hot Commodity. The college team in Athens is better off with Kirby Smart. The pro team headquartered in Flowery Branch is better off with Dan Quinn.

Further reading: Deshaun Watson is the latest QB from Georgia to eye the big prize.

Further still: Wayne Gallman left Loganville to become a big deal at Clemson.

Even further: Clemson is good enough to hush the ACC skeptics.

Reader Comments 0

21 comments
VeryDisgusted
VeryDisgusted

Chip Kelly is a good guy to stay away from .


I want him no where near an NFL team



UGA75
UGA75

Mark isn't it time for another vacation, even Schultzie wrote a couple of adequate articles in your absence. The paper is much better without your opinions, it has gotten so bad now that even when you are close to correct, the overall quality of your past article slime up the current ones. Please go away, I hear they need really poor columnist in Philly, you'd fit right in.

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

46-7 at Oregon and played for two MNC.  


That is why he is a big deal.  


What was Saban's record before returning to Alabama from the NFL?  (OK, yes he did win a MNC.....but had a worse record than Chocolate Chip).

AceDawg
AceDawg

He also inherited an Oregon team that was already rolling. Not that he didn't do some good coaching, but he was put in a good spot to succeed. There are no sure ways to know if he'll ever be considered top notch again. 

MikeS777
MikeS777

@AceDawg I think he was OC on the staff of Oregon for a couple of years before they promoted him to head coach.

Edgar
Edgar

I didn't wonder why Lurie hired Chip Kelly. I did wonder why he gave this guy, notice I didn't say coach, control over his NFL franchise. I mean this is the franchise that hired Rich Kotite as their head coach. They would have been better off digging up George Allen or Lou "Ya gotta get it done" Saban and planting them on the sideline every week.

I think he would be a great head coach at Auburn though. It's about that time for them to fire their HC. He's been there too long already and he had his time in the spotlight a couple of years ago.

bds1078
bds1078

I never have either, Mark. Never saw the fit at UGA or any other SEC team for that matter, and while his offenses were dazzling at Oregon, I don't think even in today's Pac 12 he'd be quite as successful as he was. The added strain of his ego and reported locker room friction just doesn't seem worth it. 

rationally
rationally

Touche' Mark! There seems to be a fascination with the spread in the NFL. It ain't gonna work!!! And as I reflect, he won in the PAC 12 when USC was on probation with the rest of the league was down. And he couldn't consistently beat Stanford with their pro style.

Stinger2
Stinger2

Mark: Not going to say you are wrong in your opinion of Kelly

because I have not followed his career close enough to have an opinion. However, I believe that he was not that bad this year

given that the NFL East was so bad it had two teams worse than the Eagles..namely the Giants and Cowboys

DoubleSubject
DoubleSubject

It's a big deal because the Falcons and their coach are headed in the same direction.

Peachs
Peachs

In your world Richt is still at Georgia, but don't you expect when he signs a contract for three million and has not really won anything that deserves that figure, hyped the recruiting, made people really think there was a future that really was there, that just maybe Georgia was the one that got screwed.  If they could do it over again which coach do you think Miami wish they had gotten, probably sending the same money? If you don't know now, give it two years and I will get back with you, when some lucky dog is in the final four, being coached by Chip Kelly, and Miami is not, for the same money. 

MikeS777
MikeS777

@Peachs I'm not quite following this.   Are you suggesting Chip Kelly can be had for $3 million dollars?   If so, you might want to check again on what current salaries of coaches are. 

Kelly will easily command $5 million per year or more.   Michigan is paying Jim Harbaugh $7 million.  Saban is getting about that from Alabama.   Charlie Strong, Kevin Sumlin, Bob Stoops, Jimbo Fisher, and Urban Meyer are all part of the $5 million club.

A $3 million salary is a bargain these days.

Richt only recently got raised to $4 million which brought him up to the same neighborhood as Bret Bielema at Arkansas, Dan Mullen, Les Miles, Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn,  Art Briles, Kirk Ferentz, Steve Spurrier, Gary Patterson.

There's only 4 or 5 SEC coaches making less than $4 million a year.

GTBob
GTBob

You really need an explanation? The guy went 46-7 in his 4 years as a head coach and went to BCS bowls or the National championship every year. He finished in the top 5 each of his last 3 seasons. He won the Pac 12 three of his 4 years.If any college team gets him, he will be one of the top 5 coaches in the game instantly.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@GTBob Depends on where he lands.   His system does not work against physical defenses.  

He lost to Stanford 2 out of his 4 years, and lost to USC the only year they were good when he was head coach.

UGA fans crying about getting wiped out by LSU in the 2011 SEC Championship game.   LSU wiped out Chip Kelly's Oregon team on a neutral field to start 2011.   Oregon went on to win the PAC 12 that year.

For him to duplicate what he did at Oregon, he needs to be in a track meet conference like the Big 12 currently is.   That's what the PAC 12 was like when he was at Oregon, aside from Stanford basically.  The PAC 12 has improved over that recently though.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Honestly, Mark, in a CFB world where Mike Leach, Bobby Petrino, and others have no problems getting a job, do you really think Chip Kelly will be off the market for long?  haha

On a serious note though, he would not be a good hire for a place like UGA.   Chip Kelly's system will never win the SEC.   It's too soft and his defense has never been that good.  He was able to overwhelm teams on his schedule that weren't physical.   But he had a lot of problems with Stanford and USC when those teams were good.  Kellen Moore and Boise St. beat Oregon in back to back seasons.  He lost to Ohio St.  Auburn's defensive line wrecked his offense, and LSU in 2011 wiped him out.

That's the recent history of Oregon.   They are automatic 9+ win seasons because most teams can't handle them.  But the top teams with physical defenses beat Oregon almost every time.

Clearly we've seen with Mark Richt and the near firing of Les Miles that 10 win seasons aren't going to cut it in the SEC.  

Peachs
Peachs

@MikeS777 the SEC has to keep firing the coaches, the rest of the world is catching up, no room for romance. I am not convinced Alabama is a cake walk this year like everyone says. 

MikeS777
MikeS777

@Peachs @MikeS777 No they don't actually.   It's just too many teams in the SEC have ultra high expectations.   The fan bases in the SEC are much more passionate in general than other conferences.   Les Miles and Mark Richt would never hear a whisper about a hot seat in another conference with their track records at LSU and UGA.

OH:IO
OH:IO

I thought the same thing when Tressel and Pryor kicked his butt in the Rose Bowl. 

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@OH:IO

I think a more appropriate comment would be Tressel and Pryor "Tattooed the Ducks" in the Rose Bowl.