Make no mistake: Chip Kelly has left the University of Oregon to become the head coach of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles. University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens met with the media Wednesday afternoon to discuss Kelly’s departure and the ensuing search for his replacement.
“I got a call at 7:15 this morning from Chip, and that was the first I’d heard of anything of Philly since we last talked that he was staying,” said Mullens.
On January 6, after Kelly reportedly had serious talks with the Eagles and the Cleveland Browns, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Kelly had decided to remain as Oregon’s coach. Though speculation of Kelly’s impending departure to the NFL dominated headlines throughout the weeks leading up to and following Oregon’s 35-17 Fiesta Bowl victory over the Kansas State Wildcats, chatter about Kelly’s future faded following Schefter’s report.
Until Wednesday, that is.
“He related to me he’s thought long and hard over it last ten days, and in fact it was a challenge that he always wanted to take,” said Mullens. “He wasn’t sure if the opportunity would present itself again.”
Mullens said that Kelly met with the team this morning. It has been speculated that Kelly’s eventual successor would be offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, but Mullens was steadfast in asserting that the University of Oregon would interview both internal and external candidates.
Mullens named continuity, style of play, and past success as qualities that would help determine who the university would hire next. The timing of Kelly’s departure presents challenges in recruiting, as high school seniors have less than a month until signing day. Still, Mullens is focused on choosing the right candidate for the job.
“We’re not going to be driven by timeline. We’re going to be thorough.”
After four seasons at the helm of the Oregon program, Kelly will leave the program with a 46-7 record and 33-3 in conference play. Kelly led the team to four consecutive BCS bowl games.
Mullens’ initial statement came before his 2 PM press conference:
“I want to thank Chip for his leadership and commitment to building on the Oregon Football foundation of excellence. We have enjoyed incredible success over the past four years. I have great respect for Chip, consider him a friend and wish him the best of luck in the NFL. Oregon Athletics has executed two successful head coach transitions in the past eighteen years and each time we continued our ascent. We are focused on identifying a leader who is the right fit to guide Oregon Football.” – Rob Mullens
Here’s a look back at the best Chip Kelly moments of the year: