Editor's note: this is not the consensus opinion of the staff, and we will be profiling many other candidates.
The Miami Hurricanes continue to look for the next Head Coach for the football program. As their search continues, so does our series profiling the potential candidates for the Head Coaching position.
Today, we look at an NFL coach who is an offensive innovator who led a mid-tier Power 5 school to a berth in the 2011 National Championship game: Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly.
Chip returning to the block
As coaches have done for years, Chip Kelly parlayed his collegiate coaching success into an NFL head coaching job. But, like many coaches before him, things seem to be going poorly at the professional level for Kelly. His Philadelphia Eagles are 24-19 in 3 years. Kelly's teams had matching 10-6 records in his first 2 years, but are just 4-7 this year, and coming off of consecutive blowout losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions, teams that nobody will mistake for Super Bowl contenders.
On top of those recent losses (3 in a row, with 2 blowouts), ESPN's Adam Schefter has reported that there are "signs piling up" that The Eagles and Kelly may part ways. That, for Kelly personally and Miami as a program, could be just the thing the doctor ordered.
Kelly has a brief, but great, resume as a college head coach. After serving as Offensive Coordinator at New Hampshire for 7 years, he took the same job at Oregon for 2 years. Then, when longtime Ducks coach Mike Belotti transitioned to become Athletic Director, Kelly took over the reigns of the Oregon program in 2009. And that's when the fun began.
Kelly's Oregon teams were some of the most fun, fast paced, diverse teams we've seen. They played hard, they played fast, and they won. Kelly's record in 4 years as Oregon's coach? 46-7, including 33-3 in Pac 10/Pac-12 play, with 3 Pac-10 championships, 4 Pac-10/Pac-12 North Championships (2 outright, 2 split), and an appearance in the 2011 BCS Championship game.
Kelly's Oregon run was one of the best in recent memory. Thanks having a brand new uniform combination every week (thanks, Phil Knight) and beating teams all over the country with style and flair, Oregon Duck football became a National program on a level that it had never been before. I mean.....just look at these highlights.
Love him or hate him as a person, Chip Kelly definitely deserves respect as a coach. Because, at the collegiate level, there are few who are better.
Latest coach to return to CFB success. Sometimes, you know where you're best suited to be successful. And, for several coaches recently, after spending time in the NFL, they realized that place is coaching College. Look at Pete Carroll. After failings as coach of the New England Patriots and New York Jets, Carroll returned to college and led USC to an impressive run of success in the early 2000s.
More recently, Nick Saban (LSU to Miami Dolphins to Alabama), Steve Spurrier (Florida to Washington Redskins to South Carolina), Bobby Petrino (Louisville to Atlanta Falcons to Arkansas to Western Kentucky to Louisville), to Lane Kiffin (Tennessee to USC to Oakland Raiders to Alabama OC), to Jim Harbaugh (Stanford to San Francisco 49ers to Michigan) have all made the transition back to the collegiate level.
When you consider the success they've had, led by Saban, the current Godfather of CFB, and Harbaugh, whose Michigan Wolverines have made a 180 degree turn around from the Brady Hoke era in just a year, there's reason to be hopeful that, if he were to return to the collegiate ranks, Chip Kelly could be successful once more. He's already had a great run at this level, and maybe it's time he come back to recapture that success.
Offense. The Oregon spread offense is predicated on using space to create mismatches and 1-on-1 opportunities for the players to do what they do best: make plays. Under Kelly's direction as OC and HC (where he still called plays), Oregon exploded offensively. How much did they explode? Here are some stats for you.
|Year||Points Per Game||Total Offensive Yards||Yards Per Play|
Now, take a second and think about what kind of numbers the Canes could put up with South Florida athletes running Kelly's uptempo, spread system. Wooo, buddy. I just got chills. Talk about bringing the excitement back to Miami Hurricanes football!!
Winning. As I said earlier, Kelly's record as a college coach is 46-7. That's an 86.8% winning percentage over 4 full seasons. As Herm Edwards once famously said: "you play. to win. the games". And, Kelly is among the best coaches to do that at the collegiate level. Miami needs to win. All Chip Kelly's teams do (in college) is win. And, with the ACC Coastal being an average division at best, Kelly could come right in and dominate. What's not to like?
Recruiting. Look at the chart for offense. Players all over Florida and the Southeast would be falling all over themselves to be a part of Chip Kelly's offense. He recruited and helped mold Marcus Mariota into the 2nd overall pick in the NFL draft. Every 5'9" speedster would have dreams of being "the next De'Anthony Thomas" in Kelly's system. Chip Kelly at The U would be the thing that's been missing: a reason for South Florida kids to stay home and play for the Hurricanes.
And, while we're on recruiting, having a dynamic offense would allow Kelly to get great defensive players, too. What defensive player doesn't want their offense to put up 40+ a game, and give them the ability to play a fast, 1 gap scheme to keep giving them the ball again?
Want concrete numbers rather than anecdotes? Fine. In Kelly's 5 years (2009-2013; 4 as coach, including 5th class he recruited before leaving for the Eagles), Oregon ranked 28th, 13th, 12th, 19th, and 21st, respectively. Most of that success is based on success recruiting Regionally and Nationally, as Oregon as a State has a very low number of FBS caliber recruits. Over the past decade, the State of Oregon has produced 18 4-star and 5-star recruits, an average of 1.8 per year. Of those 18 4-star and 5-star recruits, 9 of them signed with Oregon (50% of available talent), an average of 0.9 such recruits per year.
So, if Chip Kelly and his staff could build a top roster with the recruiting class rankings listed in the last paragraph while at Oregon without the benefit of local talent as a base for the roster, imagine what he could do at Miami, in the single richest recruiting area in America.
So.....about the way things ended at Oregon... Alright. We have to tackle this right up front just so it's out in the open and we're all on the same page.
Oregon had a recruiting scandal back in 2011. This was over the recruitment of running back Lache (pronounced "Lake") Seastruck, a 5-star player from Texas. The heart of the matter was the hiring/usage of a recruiting service run by Will Lyles.
In short: Oregon hired Lyles' scouting service...but there was no service. It was just him, trying to get Seastrunk to Oregon. In recruiting, that's what we call a "street agent". There's more to the story, but that's the gist of it. You can read the stories embedded on the right for all the details.
OBVIOUSLY, as a school that's had NCAA sanctions, this matters. And, let this also be said: Chip Kelly got a "failure to monitor" penalty himself, which was accompanied by an 18 month "show cause" penalty. In short: any school who wanted to hire Kelly on or before December 25th, 2014 would have to the institution and the individual (Kelly) would have had to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions for them to consider which, if any, show-cause penalties or restrictions would be placed on either the hiring school or the coach. Yeah, that's a bad thing.
When Kelly went to the NFL and took the job with the Eagles, he said the Scouting Service Scandal had nothing to do with it. I don't believe that, and I don't think you believe that either. But, that's what he said. And, what I'm saying is the athletic administration would have to have some serious oversight on Kelly at Miami to ensure that such a thing doesn't happen again. Neither the University of Miami Football Program nor Chip Kelly himself would be able to rebound if it were.
Recruiting. Yeah, again, this is a positive and a negative. Chip Kelly is from New Hampshire, and coached in Oregon. His team recruited exactly 3 Floridians to Eugene in his time with the Ducks (2 3-stars and 1 4-star), which isn't really anything to write home about. Kelly hasn't dealt with the unique recruiting beast that is South Florida, and that matters. Sure, he could have assistants help him (like he'll need to do with everything), but he'll have to get up to speed in a hurry. His ties to California and Texas are great, but as we saw with Al Golden, if the main focus of Miami Hurricanes recruiting isn't South Florida, things get unwieldy in a hurry.
Staff. Mainly: Who would his coordinators be? Kelly doesn't have a staff that would follow him to Miami is he's let go by the Eagles. His last college staff is where he left them: in Oregon. So, that means he would have to put together a full staff from scratch. That probably wouldn't be the hardest thing for him to do, given his previous collegiate success, but it's an unknown at current, so I'm going to chalk that up to a weakness for his candidacy.
Offense not Defense. I have seen many people say the Miami Hurricanes need a "defensive culture". That, to be competitive again, the Canes have to have a "defensive identity". I don't agree with this, but am listing it as a negative anyways. I like the fact that Kelly's background is offensive. He can lead us into a NEW era of Canes football. But, with many still looking exclusively to the past, this is a drawback in their eyes.
Failure. Look, for Kelly to even be available for Miami means one thing: he failed as an NFL coach. This isn't optimal, of course, but it isn't a deal breaker either. Sometimes, you learn the best lessons in life from failure. For Kelly, we'll have to see if that holds true for him.
An Outsider. For many Canes fans, this is the biggest drawback to any candidate who isn't named Butch or Mario. Chip Kelly is an outsider. He's from New Hampshire. He last coached college 3,300 miles away from Coral Gables. He doesn't fit anything that we've had as a coach, or anything we've done as a program. I'm putting it as a negative because that's the comment sentiment, but I don't personally have a problem with it.
Chip is the man
With the Eagles failing and the rumblings getting louder about his ouster, more and more people have started having the same thought: Chip Kelly at Miami would be magical.
Hey Miami fans, can you hire planes to fly over Eagles games the rest of the season saying "Fire Chip"? Then y'all can have him. Win, win.— David Hale (@DavidHaleESPN) November 26, 2015
Chip Kelly's play card is actually a list of homes for sale in Coral Gables.— Brody Logan (@BrodyLogan) November 26, 2015
If Chip Kelly wants to go back to college, he should go for Miami. I know other jobs are "better" but that's a perfect marriage.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) November 26, 2015
Chip Kelly to Miami Hurricanes??? Would be dangerous— Michigan Difference (@365SportsUpdate) November 27, 2015
If Chip Kelly were to leave the pros, I'd love to see him go to Miami #TheU— Tanner James (@xTJames23) November 27, 2015
Chip Kelly need to go ahead and apply for the coaching job at the U! at least he can recover his ego in Miami!— ♛The Dolphin King!♛ (@DRowePrice) November 26, 2015
Of all the higher profile CFB coaching openings, I'd like to see Chip Kelly at Miami.— Justin Malnes (@nitsuJ110) November 26, 2015
There's more, but I'll leave it there.
For all his faults, and there are many, Chip Kelly would be a FANTASTIC option for the University of Miami coaching job, should he be available. It's not every day that you find a coach with an 88% winning percentage who just happens to be available. For Miami, and for Kelly, this could be a match made in heaven.
And that's why Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly should be hired as the next Head Coach of the Miami Hurricanes.