Put together a 1-3 start for the Eagles and an opening at USC, and what you get is speculation.
Some national pundits see Kelly as a top candidate for the Southern Cal gig. At least one is wondering aloud whether the former Oregon coach is cut out for the pros.
On Thursday, Kelly was asked about the back-to-college buzz.
“I’m the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. I’m very, very excited to be here,” said Kelly. “No entertaining anything like that. I’m here.”
Even if Kelly was so moved to dart back to the college ranks, there are a couple potential obstacles. One is the 18-month show cause penalty he was hit with for violating NCAA rules while with the Ducks. The new school would have to appear before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions and explain why he should be allowed to be their head coach. And the university would be subject to serious penalties if Kelly were to break any rules while there. It is a deterrent, and might not be very appealing to a program that has dealt with its share of sanctions in recent years.
Then there is Kelly’s contract. He inked a five-year, $32.5 million deal in January. Asked if Kelly’s contract contains any language that would allow him to go back to being a college coach if he decides the NFL isn’t for him, owner Jeffrey Lurie responded: “We constructed the contract exactly the way we wanted to construct it as an organization. I can’t go into the details, but Chip was willing to go along exactly how we wanted the contract to be.”
In other words, it’s unlikely that Kelly would be able to leave the Eagles after one year without any repercussions.
That won’t stop the rumor mill from churning, especially if the experiment on the pro level does not show signs of progress. But the organization is confident that Kelly will not be distracted by the noise.
“Chip is our head coach and paying no attention to the national banter around this topic,” said president Don Smolenski. “His focus is on the Giants. And, next week, it will be on the Buccaneers. And the week after that Dallas…”