The case for and against Chip Kelly as a candidate to take over at Florida

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While UCF’s Scott Frost seems to be generating the most interest from fans in Florida’s week-old football coaching search, there are many who wonder how (and if) former Oregon and NFL head coach Chip Kelly would fit at Florida.

Anybody who has watched college football over the last decade knows what Kelly, Frost’s former boss, did at Oregon and how fun those Ducks teams were offensively.

And Kelly is out of football this season, after being fired by the San Francisco 49ers following as brief one-year tenure, so he’s plenty available right now to discuss opportunities.

As such, there has been a steady stream of questions from fans about Kelly’s potential at Florida.

Thus, the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day.

Blake B. asks … “Why not Chip Kelly?”

Joseph E. asks … “Thoughts on us getting Kelly?”

Corinthian P. asks .. “What are Chip Kelly’s chances?”

On pure offensive coaching acumen and record, Kelly’s credentials are almost as good as it gets.

In two years as Oregon’s offensive coordinator (2007-08) and four seasons as the Ducks’ head coach (2009-12), Kelly’s offenses never ranked lower than 12th nationally in scoring and finished in the top 3 each of his final three seasons.

As head coach, he went 46-7 overall, 33-3 in the Pac 12 and reached the national championship game in 2010 while winning the Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl each of the next two seasons.

Here’s a chart breaking down his offenses and their national ranks at Oregon.

Year Points per game (national rank) Yards per game (national rank)
2007 38.15 (12th) 467.54 (10th)
2008 41.92 (7th) 484.85 (7th)
2009 36.08 (8th) 412.00 (33rd)
2010 47.00 (1st) 530.69 (1st)
2011 46.07 (3rd) 522.79 (4th)
2012 49.54 (2nd) 537.38 (5th)

Any one of those seasons would be a dream for Florida.

And he did it with different quarterbacks from Jeremiah Masoli, Darron Thomas and Marcus Mariota.

It seems highly probable that Kelly could step in at Florida, cash in on the recruiting talent in the state while convincing top prospects that he’ll put them in positions to excel and get to the NFL, and quickly make people forget about years upon years of offensive ineptitude.

Also, given that he’s not attached to a college program at the moment, the Gators would conceivably get a deal done quickly if there is mutual interest. That would allow Florida to get to work sooner on keeping this 2018 recruiting class intact.

That said, there is another side to the debate.

It’s not totally clear how eager Kelly is to get back into the college ranks. After two NFL head coaching stints (three years with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the 49ers), it’s fair to wonder if he desires another chance to prove himself in the pros. Kelly has not offered any public insights into his preferences.

But he commented in 2013 about how much easier the schedule of an NFL coach is compared to a college coach, without the recruiting demands, and he said the same thing in 2014.

If Florida were to hire Kelly, AD Scott Stricklin would have to feel confident that he was all-in on taking on the long-term job of building Gators football back to its past standards.

That’s not the only matter he’d have to assuage, though. Kelly was handed a show-cause penalty from the NCAA that expired in 2014 for recruiting violations during his time at Oregon. As recounted by CBSSports’ Dennis Doddgo, Kelly was hit with “failure to monitor” after Oregon was accused of paying $25,000 to a 7-on-7 coach in exchange for exerting influence in recruiting.

An SEC bylaw requires a school seeking to hire a head coach with past major NCAA infractions to consult directly with conference commissioner Greg Sankey. That would likely just be a speedbump in the process, but it’s a matter with which both the SEC and Florida would have to reach a comfort level.

Finally, there is the personality factor. The common conclusion at this point is that ousted coach Jim McElwain proved to not be a personality fit at Florida, either for the administration or, by the end, much of the fan base.

Well, Kelly can be aloof and divisive as well. It didn’t matter when his teams were rolling at Oregon, but his ways wore thin with players and fans (and ultimately team owners) in both of his NFL stops.

Is he the face of the program Florida thinks can re-energize the fan base?

Those are all factors Stricklin has to consider and reasons.

If in the end, Stricklin hires Kelly I’d have confidence that he’s vetted those issues and decided that the offensive wizard gave the Gators the best chance at becoming nationally relevant again in quick order.

But there’s reasons to at least wonder about the potential fit in the meantime.

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The post The case for and against Chip Kelly as a candidate to take over at Florida appeared first on SEC Country.

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