If Chip Kelly returns to the college coaching ranks, what program would be the best fit? The Campus Insiders team discusses in this roundtable.
With San Francisco off to a 1-5 start, rumors regarding Chip Kelly’s future with the 49ers, and as an NFL head coach in general, are starting to surface. A report from Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports cites sources who believe Kelly will make a move back to college after the 2015-16 season in order to preserve his stock as a head football coach. If he does, there are plenty of programs that will likely be interested, but what would be the most ideal situation?
Let’s operate on the premise that Kelly’s stock is near its nadir by season’s end and he dips back to the college ranks. We can all agree that Tom Herman won’t be in Houston next year, so send Chipper down to coach the Cougars. The program is used to dynamic offenses – Art Briles, Kevin Sumlin, Tom Herman – so Kelly will fit that mold. Let him bide his time down in Texas for a year or two until Gary Andersen runs his course in Corvallis, Oregon. And then … bah gawd, that’s Chip Kelly’s music. Kelly then works his magic on the other side of the Civil War. From an editorial perspective, that’d sure make for some fun storylines.
Either that or Temple. Send the man back to Philly and make things awkward for Jeffrey Lurie and the Eagles.
Are we sure Chip Kelly can recreate the magic he had at Oregon? Kelly was never going to be as successful in the NFL as he was in college, and from everything I hear, he’s not exactly making friends with players or others in the front office. Of course, looking at other coaches that have failed in the pros (Mike Riley, Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino), this won’t matter to programs looking for a big hire. To me, his system would work best back in the Pac-12 or Big 12, where defenses aren’t as fast or physical as those in the SEC or Big Ten. If I had to pin it down, I’m going with Baylor. Jim Grobe is just a temporary piece in the Bears’ puzzle, so why not take a shot with Kelly?
I think the best fit would be Oregon. Mark Helfrich might not be in Eugene much longer, and Kelly could find himself in a reunion with the Ducks, a la Mike Riley with Oregon State. Frankly, it would be a good fit for both parties. But the timing might not line up. The same can be said for USC. Now that Clay Helton seems to have gotten everything in order with Sam Darnold starting under center, the Trojans will probably see how far he can take the program before making yet another move. Personally, I’d love to see him at Auburn. I think his uptempo, explosive offense would give everyone a lot to talk about in the SEC. Plus, how much fun would it be to watch Saban’s Alabama defense face off against Kelly’s Auburn offense? But here’s a curveball for you … what if he goes to Purdue? The Boilermakers want a big-time head coach. They need a big name to match Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh and Lovie Smith. Kelly could do what no one else has been able to do with Purdue. He could recruit and put points up on the board. Now that would be interesting.
Georgia Tech has a new AD in Todd Stansbury, who is a Yellow Jackets alumnus and comes over from Oregon State, where he was hired in the summer of 2015 following a three-year stint at Central Florida. We all know that ADs often like to put their own stamp on a program even when things are going fairly well. I don’t necessarily think Paul Johnson should be on the hot seat, as he did take GT to two Orange Bowls. But there is some friction between Johnson and top school brass regarding facilities and other off-the-field issues. Johnson and Chip Kelly run much different systems, of course, but that initial transition wouldn’t be too rocky for Kelly because he can be creative with personnel until he gets his type of athletes on the recruiting trail. It gets Kelly back into a top Power Five conference (the league continues to improve year after year), he avoids the gauntlet that is the SEC and he’d get to make Georgia Tech football relevant as Kirby Smart tries to do the same at Georgia. Seems like a fit to me.