Chip Kelly Fired: Top College Football Fits & What’s Next?

    What's the best job for Chip Kelly if he returns to college? What are the best ideas?

    December 30, 2015


    Chip Kelly was fired by Philadelphia. What’s next, and what college program would fit best?


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    Rick Renteria was a seemingly decent manager for the Chicago Cubs. He didn’t have anything to work with in his 73-89 season of 2014, but no one faulted him for the record, and no one thought he did a lousy job.

    He was good, Joe Maddon is better, so the Cub brass made the change and let go a perfectly solid baseball manager for a superstar.

    So which college football program might be willing to dump its guy for the Chip Kelly upgrade?

    Chip Kelly isn’t for everyone, and everyone isn’t for Chip Kelly.

    I heard the words “breath of fresh air” being used to refer to life around Eugene once Kelly left. It’s not that everyone didn’t appreciate what he did or how good he was, but everything was SO intense and SO tough all the time.

    Zero … fun … sir.

    But when you go 46-7 in four seasons with four Pac titles – spanning the Pac-10 to Pac-12 years – and play in a national title game and come close to doing it a second time, college football programs will overlook a certain level of surly.

    So what would be the right fit for Kelly, and vice versa?

    Considering USC, the other USC, Miami, Missouri and Georgia are filled and set, which program would Renteria up and dump their current head man for a better one?

    The Not-Big-Enough Program: Illinois

    Illinois might be a hot mess overall as an athletic department right now, but it also has one thing it can offer Kelly that almost no one else would – an athletic department.

    The days of throwing a bone to the old school legend to handle women’s basketweaving budgets are gone. Being an athletic director is a big business marketing job, but, considering Kelly just got a taste of what it’s like to run an entire program, this might be the one thing that could get Kelly to Illinois. Bill Cubit is the textbook definition of a rental coach – Illinois will be looking for a new head man next year, and maybe an AD, too. Of course, that’ll never, ever happen, so …

    The Alumni-Can’t-Write-A-Check-Fast-Enough Programs: Texas and Texas A&M

    Considering Kelly pushed hard for Texas recruits – famously so with the whole Willie Lyles incident – and he’d fit in perfectly football-wise at either Texas or Texas A&M. Charlie Strong will be great as the Longhorn head man – Kelly would be better. Kevin Sumlin has strangely been put under the microscope after losing his prized quarterback recruits – Kelly’s offense with A&M’s talent?

    And then there’s the ego factor.

    You want to see a bidding war among the alumni? A&M and Texas boosters would do whatever it took for an A list college coaching star with THAT offense.

    The Buyer’s-Remorse Program: USC

    Clay Helton had better be really, really, REALLY good.

    USC was probably the premier job opening this year in terms of overall prestige, and Helton was seen as a bit of a safe choice to try stabilizing the ship. That was fine considering the Steve Sarkisian drama – now get to the college football playoff.

    Kelly and AD Pat Haden aren’t a mesh, but hire the ex-Oregon head man and the rest of the Pac-12 instantly wets itself. Would the Trojans want to risk losing Kelly a year too late? Helton’s the guy – but the Trojans had better be special right away if Kelly takes a year off.

    The Better-To-Be-A-Year-Too-Early-Than-A-Year-Too-Late: Nebraska

    The Huskers played really, really hard under Mike Riley, all the way up to the UCLA bowl win. But is he going to bring Nebraska a Big Ten title? Can he recruit well enough to get the top talent back into the program? If Riley is on a three-year plan – he saved himself with the post-season win – then Kelly and his offensive style would be exactly what the team could use. The fan base would love it. Again, Kelly was great at recruiting Texas when he was at Oregon, and Nebraska has always done a decent job there.

    The Maybe-Kelly-Is-Damaged-Goods Hire: Kentucky

    Sort of like Louisville was able to get Bobby Petrino for a button, if he’s not wanted right away by the NFL, there’s a chance Kelly might need a year or so to figure it all out. Of course, if he wanted any one of about 75 college head coaching jobs, he’d be in, but Kentucky could be the right mix of possibilities at the right time. It’s a program used to thinking outside of the box – it was Baylor before Baylor was Baylor – and it’s also one that needs to create a better football culture. Kelly could make the program his from the very start and it would all work right away.

    The What’s-Going-To-Happen Move: Tennessee Titans

    Sorry, college world. You really think Kelly is going to go out of the NFL with a whisper?

    His teams weren’t totally awful in Philly, and it’s a big deal that he’s gone after so much of an investment was made in his decision-making in the personnel department. The Titans have the Kelly quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the have a lot of young prospects, they don’t have to pay anything now to the Eagles, they have the No. 1 pick in the draft, and GM Ruston Webster’s contract is up. Does Tennessee what to risk the Philly experience with Kelly? Considering Kelly really wasn’t that bad overall, it’s a chance work taking that the right environment could turn him into a superstar head man.

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