Chip Kelly’s Secret Weapons Are College Professors

Eagles coach Chip Kelly has brought in college professors from a variety of fields for 'a TED talk with Kelly as the only audience member.'

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly is known for his meticulous attention to detail in improving his football team: The players get customized smoothies. He runs an up-tempo offense in an attempt to keep the defense off guard. And he brings in college professors to learn more about building a winner.

Kelly, obviously, learns from other football coaches. But he also has invited college professors from subjects that run the gamut from cognitive psychology to African-American history. “Chip says, ‘This guy, with his social sciences or psychology or statistical model or his understanding of African-American history, let’s bring him in and see if there’s even one idea or one sentence that is a piece of trying to get done what I’m trying to accomplish,'” Harry Edwards, a professor emeritus at the University of California-Berkeley and expert on race relations who has advised Kelly, told the Wall Street Journal. “He is always searching for the missing piece and he realizes it could be a piece you can’t find in the athletic arena.”

In one tale recounted by the Journal, Kelly brought in Swedish cognitive psychologist and Florida State professor K. Anders Ericsson to help his players better articulate game concepts to the coaches. This seems like a minor point, but you easily see how helping the players communicate with the coaches could really improve play on the field. Ericsson suggested using video to teach the players opposing teams’ formations instead of still pictures. “You want to encourage players to be more analytical and open them up to more feedback on what they aren’t paying attention to,” Ericsson said.

“Imagine, if you’d like to laugh, a TED talk with Kelly as the only audience member,” the Journal’s Kevin Clark writes. But will these personal TED talks to a Super Bowl? Who knows: Maybe Chip Kelly has met with an oracle in order to find out.