Chip Kelly has brought unparalleled success to the Oregon Ducks in the four seasons he has been the head coach. The Ducks have won three conference championships, including the inaugural Pac 12 Championship game, and will be going to their fourth straight BCS bowl this January. But that hasn’t stopped some prominent boosters of the Oregon football program from secretly hoping Kelly moves on from the Ducks sooner rather than later.
From John Locanthi of the Willamette Week:
A number of substantial Oregon football boosters, many of whom requested anonymity, expressed a widespread annoyance with Kelly. The coach with the highest winning percentage (45-7, 86.5 percent) among BCS conference coaches is at odds with many of those closest to the Oregon program.
Although most would agree Kelly is an extraordinary coach, he doesn’t care much for the many other obligations that come with his job. “Some of the college boosters have gone as far to say, ‘I hope he does leave so we can get somebody who appreciates the fans,” says Jack Roberts, a former Oregon labor commissioner and Oregon alumnus.
While Kelly has unquestionably been an outstanding head coach for Oregon, one thing he has not done well is the glad-handing and schmoozing that so often go into the job off the football field. Kelly is an introvert who keeps to himself and would rather bury himself in film study and game planning than play 18 holes with a booster.
Boosters at Oregon, however, are used to some degree of politicking after the tenure of Mike Belotti. The long time coach, turned athletic director, turned ESPN and ABC analyst had a special talent for making the boosters and fans feel special about their involvement with the football program. That is a skill that was not passed on to his replacement Kelly.
On countless occasions, Kelly has avoided going the extra mile for boosters and fan clubs. Instead of traveling to meet with several groups of Oregon fan clubs, Kelly will call in or appear to all of them at the same time in a teleconference. Instead of playing golf with prominent boosters, Kelly will send his assistant coaches instead. To Kelly, his only job is to win football games and socializing with the people who write checks for the team isn’t part of that success.
With the NFL coaching carousel about to pick up with the off-season just a few weeks away, Chip Kelly will likely be attached to a number of openings at the next level. It’s no secret that Kelly has been tempted by the professional ranks before and may be inclined to test himself in the NFL.
If the boosters are working to push him out the door, or at least whispering that he should take the leap, the time could be close for Kelly to leave Eugene for the bigger (if not always greener) pastures of the NFL. With his aversion to all those little things that come along with being a head football coach of a major college program, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him jump to the NFL where he can be just a football coach, and the boosters wouldn’t mourn his decision for a second.
However, in college football, success can be fleeting. Is the possibility of derailing one of the premier programs in the country over the last four years worth a little extra special attention from the head coach? Oregon boosters may soon find out.