clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

FLORIDA COACHING UPDATE: IT MIGHT BE CHIP KELLY

New, 633 comments

OR IT MIGHT NOT, BELIEVE NOTHING, WHO THE HELL KNOWS

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Kansas State
THIS COULD BE YOU, FLORIDA, MAYBE, WE DUNNO
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Is Chip Kelly Florida’s coach? We don’t know, but neither do you, the University of Florida, or Chip Kelly. Everyone is in good company here.

BUT I—- Ditch every message board rumor, Twitter “BANK IT” certainty, and “thing I saw that I desperately want to be true.” We have a thousand things we want to be true right now. However, that doesn’t mean tweeting out “the coaching search is over and you also don’t have to worry about two kids home from school climbing over your laptop with full beverages about to spill” gets that RT button smashed, buddy. That guy who is the son of a board member or that other guy you know who’s real connected? He is telling you what you want to hear. That’s a whole profession, and if you want to get through this half-sane you’ll have nothing to do with it.

What do you know, you worthless multitasking man in sweatpants? The rock-ribbed AP confirmed the New Hampshire meeting between Kelly and UF this weekend. From there, everyone can assume a few obvious things that still need stating anyway.

Like? Well, that Chip Kelly is evidently choice one, and that Stricklin and his superiors still have large ambitions about football at the University of Florida. It also means Chip Kelly, for the moment, has decided he might be a college football coach, and is progressing along that particular part of his career curve at the moment. Florida is demonstrably searching for a coach who will score points, and one with substantial evidence of prior success. That coach can come even if he has a show-cause on his record re: recruiting. Because WE STILL SEC, Y’ALL.

Is that different than the previous two searches? Um, yes, actually? No one is more skeptical about the competence of highly-paid adults trying to do anything well, but the names mentioned so far—Chip Kelly and Scott Frost—are people who have done the job of head coach before, had aggressive, productive offenses, and have nothing to do with Nick Saban whatsoever. The first two factors are objectively true, while the third is us nodding at the injection of an entirely new way of doing things into a stale ecosystem of ideas.

Does Chip Kelly not immediately taking the job and running home with the University of Florida mean he turned down Florida? Nah. He’s got a full dance card and will take a turn with everyone else. Everyone else in this case is UCLA, which just fired Jim Mora, and has a lot of very positive things to offer a coach wanting a neat reintroduction into college football. See: a large recruiting base in a sunny place, familiar competitive turf, and a desperate situation they can exploit contractually for control, etc.

Kelly took a full week after turning down the Eagles in January of 2013. He also talked to the Browns. This is a good sign for Florida. No one, in Chip Kelly’s eyes, is beyond saving—including this forlorn football program coming off a triumphant win over UAB.

Is this even a good idea? It’s not a bad idea? It’s definitely not a bad idea, and in a string of bad ideas made bad realities for Florida that is a change. Generally speaking: Chip Kelly went 46-7 at Oregon, was 15-6 versus ranked teams, got the Ducks to a national title game, won the Pac-12 three out of four years he was there, changed the way most teams play and defend college football offenses, and did so at a place that historically hasn’t come close to that kind of success.

There’s Nike money pushing that and quite an inheritance from Mike Bellotti, sure. But a large percentage of that success should be credited directly to Kelly, whose four year tenure changed the way a lot of people do things in the sport.

ARE THERE RISKS, THOUGH? TELL ME THE RISKS, SPECIFICALLY THAT THEY DON’T EXIST SO I CAN GO ON LIVING MY LIFE WITH CERTAINTY? OR THAT AS AN OPPONENT OR RIVAL, I CAN DISMISS THIS AS ANOTHER MISTAKE THAT WILL SET FLORIDA BACK FOR ANOTHER DECADE????

There are plenty of risks with any candidate. The horrible truth with a coaching search is that there is no perfect candidate, and no outcome is ever guaranteed. Chip Kelly could turn Florida down, because Chip Kelly will do whatever the hell he wants. Worse, it could come out afterward that Kelly went elsewhere because Florida wanted to meddle with his staff, continuing a rumored pattern of interference by Florida administration in staff decisions extending back to Will Muschamp’s hire.

If hired, the worst could be true. His offense could fail under pressure from burly SEC defenses with their giant, nimble linemen and hulking 3-4 linebackers. (Prepare to hear about the 2011 title game a lot! Despite almost beating undefeated Auburn 22-19! Michael Dyer was down!) The recruiting—which Kelly was famously uninterested in at Oregon—could implode. Kelly could finally accept his destiny in 2020 and take the Cleveland Browns job he turned down seven years earlier. Chip Kelly could be a ruined husk of his former self. AREN’T WE ALL, MAN.

All of this could happen and is completely possible because no hire is risk-free, no present choice exists without the potential of future disaster, and because life is deeply unpredictable. Remember: Even Oregon thought they might have made a mistake with Chip after his debut as a head coach ended with a 19-8 loss to Boise State. That game. The one that ended with LeGarrette Blount Falcon-punching Byron Hout.

BlountPunch
CHIP’S TENURE AT OREGON GOT OFF TO A GREAT START

We can’t make you feel better about any of this because it might not be okay.

COULD IT WORK OUT THO? Sure. But worry about that when and if it happens. The only thing we’ll say is this: People are too worried about recruiting, and not about what they might actually be getting in Chip Kelly. Oregon is a hinterland, recruiting-wise, and Kelly and his staff still brought in name talent along with celebrated diamond-in-the-rough finds. (An unheralded Marcus Mariota, for one.) It wasn’t USC-level recruiting, but he wasn’t pitching from USC’s perch in one of America’s largest metropolitan areas, either. Florida won’t recruit itself—but it’s not Eugene, either.

The real concern is wondering what you’re getting in a coach who bombed out of two NFL stops, and whose revolutionary work as an offensive guru is now a decade old and part of mainstream college football thinking. Nothing Kelly will do now will catch anyone by surprise. Then again, much of it never did, and was pretty fundamental from the jump.

It’s completely fair to wonder what you’re getting in terms of motivation and commitment, even if everyone who knows him swears he’s still the same football-obsessed hermit he was at Oregon and New Hampshire. The initial concept here is pretty straightforward: “Do the Nick Saban thing, but with an offensive guy who also bombed out of the NFL after a few years.” Chip Kelly could, in theory, do that.

What if he passes? Then Florida will focus on Scott Frost, and then after that on Willie Taggart. If they turn Florida down, then we’ll decide the job by a game of Slippery Stairs, Japan’s latest and greatest game show innovation. When a grinning Houston Nutt in a horrifying neoprene bodysuit climbs to the top first, we’ll put on “Get Lucky” and acquire a new and even more powerful drinking problem than before. It’ll be 2013 all over again here—and just like then none of us will be able to control a bit of it.

What about Frost? Everything points to him wanting to finish the season with UCF before entertaining anything. So if it’s him, then everyone is going to get a scorching case of cabin fever before the thaw breaks. Prepare accordingly.

Can you make me feel absolutely good about any part of this? Only that a.) the coaching candidate pool is deep and talented, and that the worst reasonable choice will still be an upgrade on past management, and b.) former Florida AD Jeremy Foley is not the principal decision maker or this hire, and we will probably be spared a hire based on the need to look like A BRILLIANT KINGMAKER.

That’s probably the best change here. If you want a producer who won’t dance in your videos, you may now come work at Florida.