Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles: Rob Mullens and Oregon Duck Players React To News of Departure

Christian Petersen

Athletic director Rob Mullens and players Brian Jackson and Hroniss Grassu met the media Wednesday to talk about Chip Kelly's departure.

(Video of Grassu at the bottom)

University of Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, center Hroniss Grassu, and safety Brian Jackson met with the media this afternoon in regards to now-former head coach Chip Kelly leaving Eugene to take the same position with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.

Mullens said that Kelly called him at 7:15 this morning, after previously calling the athletic director the Sunday after Oregon's Fiesta Bowl victory to inform him that he (Kelly) was staying.

"I got a call at 7:15 this morning from Chip, and that was the first I’d heard of anything from Philadelphia since he said he was staying," Mullens said.

"When he had called me the Sunday after the Fiesta Bowl I did think that was it. He explained to me that he had arrived at his decision…I did not expect this to happen."

""The decision was made when he called me."

In regards to the process of hiring a new head football coach, Mullens suggested that Oregon will likely look for outside help in determining the next leader of the football program, and that there was no leader in the clubhouse.

He didn't have a timetable for a decision, but explained that some progress had been made before today's news.

"We had already done a lot of groundwork and started the process knowing that Chip was going to be talking to the Eagles, Browns and Bills," Mullens said."

"We have a number of internal candidates. We’ve got several coaches on our staff who have the experience and background to be head coaches...but we will also talk to others outside of the program."

As far as the players go, both Grassu and Jackson alluded to Kelly being emotional this morning as he told the team he was leaving. The players had a previously scheduled workout at the Moshofsky Center, and Kelly simply brought them in for a huddle before it started and let them know he was leaving.

"He had kind of a somber tune…teared up a few times, never broke into a full cry," Jackson said of Kelly's demeanor.

Neither Grassu or Jackson thought that Kelly's departure would have a major impact on recruiting, and Grassu was confident that no players would transfer out of the program because of a head coaching change.

"It's part of the business, it's part of the game," Grassu said.

No assistant coaches were at the workout today, as they are all out on the recruiting trail. Mullens said he put together a conference call with them this morning to make sure they were all on the same page, in part because he felt like they were left out of the loop the last time Kelly flirted with the NFL.

Jackson said he'd spoken to defensive backs coach John Neal since the news broke, but they didn't talk about Neal's future with the team, and that it didn't really matter to him who the next head coach was.

"I don't have a say in it, Jackson said." What I want doesn't really matter honestly. I feel like the way things are here, they'll pick the best to fill the spot."

When asked near the end of their interviews what they thought of Kelly as a coach, and what his legacy will be at Oregon, both Grassu and Jackson had words of high praise for their former coach.

"Anytime he's talking, he gets you going, right before practice or before a game," Grassu said. "He's a great coach and a great life coach as well."

"He brought a new style of football to the college scene, but he had an old school approach to it," Jackson added.

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