Last week, Chip Kelly was adamant that he had decided to stay at Oregon rather than leave for the NFL. Yesterday, Kelly announced that he has decided to leave to coach the Eagles. So what changed?
Tony Dungy, the former Buccaneers and Colts coach whose son plays at Oregon, has a theory: Kelly watched the playoffs last weekend and became more convinced than ever that his offense can work in the NFL.
“I know all the players and everyone around the University of Oregon was shocked,” Dungy said on the Dan Patrick Show. “They wouldn’t have been shocked if it had happened 12 days ago because Chip had said, ‘Hey, I’m going to take a look at these things.’ And I talked to him at that time, we talked about a few things about NFL football versus college football and that kind of thing. And I was convinced he had decided to stay. He just thought he was in a great situation and I thought that was that. But I have a guess. And I could be wrong, I don’t know, it’s just a guess. But I’ll ask you, Dan: Could it be that Chip Kelly watched the playoffs and watched Russell Wilson run a little bit of his read option in the spread offense, and watched Colin Kaepernick run a little bit more of it?”
Dungy added that he thinks Kelly watched the playoffs thinking, “My offense is way farther advanced than that, and maybe if this is going through the NFL, it might not be so tough.”
In Dungy’s view, Kelly didn’t jump for more money because Nike founder and Oregon booster Phil Knight was willing to spend whatever it took to keep Kelly. And Dungy doesn’t believe that looming NCAA sanctions convinced Kelly to leave, either.
“I don’t think it’s money at all,” Dungy said. “Nike has as much as anybody. I don’t think it’s sanctions — from what I know of everything that’s going on there, I really think it’s strictly football and vision and making this work in the NFL and seeing if I can compete against the best.”
Now Kelly will see — after Wilson and Kaepernick already showed him that spread concepts can be employed effectively in the NFL.