By now you've read the news that Chip Kelly has closed Oregon's spring practices to the public.
Last season, Kelly closed practices completely to the public prior to the opener against LSU. That's understandable before a big game, when you may not want a snoop giving information on your gameplan to an opponent. It was more interesting that the practices remained closed all season, following an annoying nationwide trend. Closing spring practice is the obvious next step in that evolution.
Now, I'm not one that cares to take time out of my day to watch a practice. I wouldn't go to a spring practice if they were open. I only go to the spring game because its a great chance to tailgate with friends in the offseason. But there are a number of people that enjoy going to these, and I've found that a great deal of them are fans that cannot afford to go to games, and therefore this is their chance to see their team in person. And while I don't care to go to a practice myself, I do enjoy reading Rob Moseley's practice reports, so I have at least some idea of who seems to be progressing well. This whole scenario poses the obvious question: what does Oregon have to gain by closing spring practices?
This is the question that has me extremely befuddled. Chip Kelly doesn't owe the public anything as far as his practices go, but it would seem like you should be gaining some kind of tangible benefit in exchange for alienating a certain segment of the fan base. Perhaps new scheme is being installed? Possible, but Oregon starts off the season with three cupcakes, and there will be plenty of game film out before the Ducks face a real challenge. Certainly, it can't be personnel related, as what happens in spring ball bears little consequence to what will happen in the fall. Perhaps Kelly simply wants to eliminate distractions for his team--although if they want to accomplish what everyone expects them to next fall, they need to learn to deal with many more distractions then a few people on the sidelines during practice.
Kelly is far from the only coach to take these steps, as it seems to be the new norm in college football. Coming off a Rose Bowl victory, the backlash will be relatively minimal. However, its the kind of thing that gets old if a team stops winning. I fail to understand the reasoning for doing something that seems so utterly pointless.