When Giants coach Tom Coughlin looks across the field at Eagles coach Chip Kelly on Sunday, he’ll be looking at a man he once tried to hire.
Coughlin was one of the first to recognize Kelly’s coaching talents, and in 2006, when Kelly was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire, Coughlin tried to hire Kelly. To many coaches, the opportunity to jump from a I-AA college to the NFL would be a dream come true, but all Coughlin was offering Kelly was a quality control position, and Kelly wasn’t going to leave a job in which he had free rein to run an offense to take a job where all he did was break down tape for the more senior coaches on the Giants’ staff.
“It was a quality control position,” Kelly told CSNPhilly.com. “It wasn’t coaching a position. When you get to a point where I was, doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you’re designing offenses, you’re calling plays, coaching an individual position. Even though it’s a huge step up going from New Hampshire to the Giants, that was it.”
Coughlin said he saw the potential in Kelly early on.
“We thought he was an outstanding young coach who had done a very, very good job, who was a good friend of one of the member’s of my staff,” Coughlin said. “When the position was available, we inquired about talking with Chip and had him in. Chip was an outstanding candidate. I think at that point in time he wanted something other than what we had available.”
Kelly seems to have made the right choice: A year after he turned down Coughlin, he accepted an offer to become the offensive coordinator at Oregon. Two years after that he became the head coach at Oregon, and after three years as the Ducks’ head coach he accepted the Eagles job. Coughlin may have thought Kelly was an outstanding young coach, but he probably didn’t think he’d be coaching against Kelly seven years after offering him a quality control job.