Throughout the turmoil with the football team over the of the past few weeks, Chip Kelly has kept fairly silent. While we have been informed that some players have been kicked off the team, during allegations against the Ducks two biggest stars, we haven't heard too much. And that's led to a good deal of speculation from many sources.
In what seems to be a response to that speculation, Chip Kelly spoke out today (video of his press conference is after the jump). And in doing so, he reinforced why I am so glad that he's the head coach of the University of Oregon football team. This is the exact response that I wanted from him.
The first thing that came across during the press conference is that Chip Kelly has taken these matters very seriously. He made very clear that these types of incidents will not be tolerated, and that there will be consequences for actions.
He talked about how the culture they strive for is an every day process, and it's not a matter of simply responding to incidents as they arrive. Kelly stressed that the coaching staff is as proactive as they can be. From Kelly:
We talk about doing the right things every day. There's a right way to conduct yourself, and a wrong way to conduct yourself. And our players know that. But if they cross the line, they also know there's gonna be punishment for it.
I think that this attitude displayed itself in the work ethic of last season, and how the coaching staff conducted itself. The Ducks won the Pac-10 title because they did things the "right way." They worked hard and practiced hard. That was the culture of the team. That said, there were also set backs along the way. LeGarette Blount's famous meltdown was met with a quick decision. While some will talk as if Kelly's eight game suspension was weak in some way, as Kelly pointed out in his press conference today, Blount's punishment was eight times longer than what was required by the NCAA. On top of that, Kelly talked about how there were players held out of games because they didn't attend classes per team rules.
It seems like there are clear rules for the team, and Kelly will not hesitate to make a decision, when he has all the facts. It's very important that we consider this, as Kelly was very clear that there will not be a rush to judgement. In fact, Kelly did not talk to LaMichael James until last night.
To me, this is what I want to see from our head coach. I have no doubt that Kelly will not tolerate these types of incidents, and will bring down the hammer when necessary. But it's also about doing what is just, and to improve the character of the men on the team.
While others are flipping out about the lawlessness of the football team, I'm happy with Kelly's response so far. He's responded to those situations where he has the information, and is withholding judgment on those which requires it. This is exactly what should be happening.
Now, that's not to say that Kelly's job is finished. He may have some very tough decisions to make coming up. But if this press conference showed us anything, it's that he's ready to stick to his guns, and hold his players to the program rules.
So, once again, we wait, and trust that Kelly will do right by his players, the university, and the community. And I'm confident he'll do just that.
A few more notes on the press conference:
- Kelly seemed totally unconcerned about the status of Jeremiah Masoli, and would not even refer to his situation as an incident.
It sounds like Kelly will not be imposing any punishments on LaMichael James at this time, at least until his legal situation is finalized. Also, James cannot attend class "right now," and there is no word on his eligibility at this time.