If you haven't heard it yet, Steve Tannen on Sports Talk 95.3 in Eugene, had about a 20 minute interview with Chip Kelly where they talked about the recruiting process, Darron Thomas' departure to the NFL, some of the players coming back on the team next year, and most prominently Kelly's recent flirtation with taking the head coaching job for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tannen did an excellent job getting to the heart of the matter with Kelly regarding his possible acceptance of the Tampa Bay job. First, Tannen asked him why he listened to the job offer in the first place. Kelly mentioned that he followed the same process that led him to Oregon 5 years ago.
Kelly felt like he was operating from "a position of strength" in that he loves the job he has and the people he works with, but he needed to gather the information from Tampa to be able to make a decision. He said, "they presented to me what their plan was for Tampa Bay, and it was extremely attractive."
One of the more interesting parts to me, was Kelly talking about needing to hear Oregon's side of the story before he had all the information. Two things really stuck out to me. First, Kelly made sure he had time to talk to Rob Mullens, Oregon's AD, before he made his decision. Mullens was on a flight home from England, so this delayed the process, compared to some of the other coaching changes that have gone on this off season where coaches waited until their superiors were actually on their flights or unavailable when they made their decision. Second, Kelly addressed this issue in a similar manner to the way he's addressed other off season issues. Gather all the evidence, hear both sides of the story and then make a decision. Only it was Kelly in the middle of this situation and not a rogue athlete facing punishment.
Next, Tannen talked to Kelly about reasons for making the jump to the NFL. Kelly addressed a couple of floating rumors when he said that he wasn't doing it for leverage to get a renegotiated contract, and he never wavered in his decision. He only made one decision and that was he wanted to stay at Oregon. Kelly talked about the unknown of the NFL and still struggling "deep down inside" about whether the NFL is something he wants to give a try.
Ultimately, Kelly decided to turn down the job because of what brought him to Oregon and got him into coaching in the first place; relationships. Kelly talked about the great relationships he has with the coaching staff and the players on the team. One can only speculate if this was part of Mullen's "side of the story" that he reiterated to Kelly.
All in all, I don't think this will put to bed the chances of Kelly eventually jumping to the NFL. You could look at Kelly's comment of "deep down inside" from either perspective. Either Kelly doesn't have that answer yet and won't until he actually coaches in the NFL, or Kelly looked at the NFL and realized that it didn't offer the relationships he has now.
This was easily one of the better and more candid interviews I've heard from Chip Kelly. Huge props to Steve Tannen for asking the questions he did and getting Kelly to open up about what was obviously a tough decision for him. There are a number of other issues the two of them go on to discuss and Kelly does so in his witty and dry way. He may have come very close to moving on from Oregon, but I think everyone will agree we're glad he wasn't ready to abandon those relationships just yet.