Should He Stay or Should He Go?
A controversial quote must have context, so we’ll give Chip Kelly the benefit of the doubt when he uttered this the other day:
“It’s going to happen. We’re not successful and we’re not winning. I came from college. I’m going to go back to college. I hope someday to be like coach (Tom) Coughlin and win enough games where I can stay around long enough where the speculation ends.” Kelly said.
The Eagles coach had been asked a question about the possible interest in him from the likes of the University of Southern California, which just fired their coach, Steve Sarkisian. Maybe possible is too slight a word. There is little question that a vaunted football program like USC, which under Pete Carroll forged a near dynasty, would hire Kelly in a second.
But Kelly wasn’t saying he would go back to college. He was answering a question about him being a continual subject every time a big time college opening comes up and he was saying that it was just something he was going to have to endure. But that his main focus is the Philadelphia Eagles and he wants to be an NFL coach.
Do I believe that? Yes and no.
Kelly is programmed to be a success everywhere he coaches. Failure is not in his vocabulary. When he took the Eagles job, he assumed that his coaching methodology would work even at the highest level, the NFL. The Eagles fan base, and probably the rest of the football world – especially the old school guys – aren’t so sure.
Kelly’s idea that he can just plug any player into any position, regardless of star quality, hasn’t worked this far this season, even if the Eagles beat the Giants Monday night and even their record at 3-3. Looking at the remainder of the schedule after Monday, the Eagles will be fortunate to finish their season at 9-7. Now that might win the NFC East Division since everyone else in it is mediocre. But it’s not exactly progress from year one to year two to year three. The Eagles won 10 games in Chip’s first year and lost a playoff game. They didn’t make the playoff last year. And taking a 9-7 record into this year’s playoffs isn’t going to get them close to an NFC Division title game or certainly not a Super Bowl.
Here’s what also could happen: the Eagles could finish with a losing record and then it might not be Chip Kelly’s decision to stay. Even if Jeff Lurie doesn’t act and fire Chip, maybe this head coach, in a 6-10 season, might start to think that college is where he belongs. Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier had enough after a couple of years in the NFL, coaching guys who get paychecks. And that’s a lot harder than holding the hammer over a bunch of college kids you recruit three deep every year.
There are at least three current schools interested in Kelly, who would bring immediate buzz to revive a struggling program. The first is Texas, whose coach, Charlie Strong, has ticked off influential alums by losing to bad teams. Strong just got there and Texas boosters would buy him out. But that’s oil money and it’s plentiful. The second is Maryland, which has no shot. Chip Kelly’s going to go to Maryland? What are they going to give him there, all the proceeds from the Preakness to make it worth his wild? And then there is USC.
The Trojans would start at $10 million a year for the services of Kelly, who has Pac-10 experience and recruited better athletes out of Los Angeles than USC and UCLA when Chipper coached at Oregon. He would get EVERY great player in the west. By the way, that $10 mil is $3 more mil than Saban makes at Alabama. And that’s not bad.
Would Eagles fan cry of Chip Kelly left? Right now, probably not. And if the Eagles finish these season 6-10, they kick his butt personally out the Nova Care facility door.