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When are you allowed to question the coach?

So when are you, as a fan, allowed to question the coach? Not like in a "fire Chip Kelly he's an idiot because he didn't run the ball more!" kind of way. But in the aspects of the team or the game? For myself, in the first two years it didn't feel right to question many things that he did. For one, there weren't a lot of losses or bad times that usually are a catalyst for going over how a coach handled the situation, and secondly he was so new as a head coach, a lot of the decisions he was making he was making for the first time, so he needed to be given the freedom to make those decisions without the media or fans second guessing everything he did. And for the most part, I think Kelly did an excellent job handling the Blount situation, the off season troubles, the big games, the game plans, the recruiting, and all the things that a new head coach had to endure.

But is it ok to start to question how he's handling things now?

First of all, I think there is reason to be concerned with Kelly's preparation of the team and the game plan when it comes to playing quality defensive lines. Now, there's no concern with that in the Pac 12 this year, because no team has one, and we probably won't see one until a bowl game. But you look at the game plan against Ohio St, Auburn, and LSU and you have to wonder if the team was prepared for their D-line. In the 3 seasons under Kelly, Oregon is averaging 42.9 points per game. In those three games Oregon is averaging 21 per game. In 3 seasons so far, Oregon is averaging 268.2 yards per game rushing. In those 3 games Oregon is averaging 116.33. There is a definite trend here, and I'm sure there will be plenty of Kelly supporters (I being one of them) that will explain away each of those games, or talk about X fluke play, or Y reason for the decrease in production.

But is it ok to question how the team has done in those games?

Lastly, on the discipline of players, I think there has been a shift in how Kelly has handled it. When the Blount incident happened Kelly took swift and decisive action. Later, after Blount proved he deserved a second chance, Kelly let him back. When asked about why he didn't just suspend Blount indefinitely, instead of the suspended for the full year like he was given, Kelly talked about how he thought indefinite suspensions didn't solve much, and didn't give the player a reason to work himself back onto the field. Plus, he didn't want the player coming into his office every week saying, "am I going to play this week coach?"

When the LaMicahel James situation happened, Kelly took a lot of grief from the media about not suspending LMJ during the off season. In a famous radio interview, he goes as far as to say, "What am I suspending him from? There's nothing to suspend him from now."

Fast forward to this off season. Kelly's already gone through one tumultuous off season, and this one starts with the uncovering of the Yahoo story and Will Lyles. Again the media is swirling around Kelly. Then you have the Kiko incident. Which by the accounts of the police, let's just say Kiko was lucky about which house he broke into. If that had been my house, with 2 daughters, the police would have likely been hearing only one side of the story at the end of the night. This was Kiko squandering his second chance, after a DUI last year. On a side note, I think the full year suspension for Kiko last year was completely out of character for Kelly too, and one of the first signs he was starting to change his discipline. Kelly reacted to Kiko's DUI. It was the same day as the press conference where Kelly talked about controlling his program. Normally, Kelly waited for the legal process to play out, and yes, Kiko did plead not guilty to the DUI. This time Kelly immediately suspended Kiko for he full year.

This year, after Kiko decides to play slumber party at a stranger's house, Kelly suspends Kiko indefinitely. Huh? It made no sense to me then and it still makes no sense. First of all, it was during the off season. In Kelly's own words, what was he suspending Kiko from? Second, this was Kiko's third chance. Why the leniency now?

Then the Cliff Harris situation happened. For some, this incident was almost trivial. At the time it was just a speeding ticket (we later learn that pot was involved, but no DUI or possession charges). Again, Kelly hands down an indefinite suspension, but he also throws in this time a minimum of 1 game sitting out against LSU. Now when you compare this to the Kiko incident, it appears that the discipline of Harris is more severe than Kiko's. And with what has transpired on the field this year, it is definitely worse.

Now, I don't want to get into a whose "transgression was greater" argument because we don't know the circumstances. My point is Kelly has changed course on his discipline, and I don't think it is for the better of the team. When he suspended a player, Kelly always talked about that person needing to get things off the field straight before worrying about what happens on the field. And I agree with that. Therefore, I knew that if a guy wasn't playing (Masoli, Kiko, LMJ, Harris) it was because they were going through whatever they needed to go through to be able to be on the team again. Once they were back on the field (Blount, James, Kiko) it was no longer an off the field issue thing, it was now a football thing. You didn't get back onto the field until you cleared your hurdles off, and then you didn't play until it was best for the team.

With Harris, that isn't the case. He's been allowed to play since the Missouri State game, where he saw special teams action and a couple of late game snaps once the game was already determined. In the Arizona game, Harris played significant minutes at corner, and it appeared that he was starting to work his way back into that starter and lead position at the corner. Then last night's game against Cal, saw Harris again returned to special team player and late game corner when the game was already in hand.

For me, this is not the best football move. Harris is Oregon's best defensive player, and most dynamic playmaker on that side of the ball. He should not be reduced to garbage time corner and cheerleader. If he's being made to sit because of off the field issues, then he should, as Kelly has said, take care of that first then worry about football. But, that doesn't appear to be the case because he's playing. So why make him sit for 55 minutes of an important conference game against an erratic QB, especially in the first half when the game was very much in doubt? Watching Talking Ducks on Comcast last night, some commentators hypothesized that Harris is having trouble with Aliotti's scheme. Huh? You're telling me freshman Terrance Mitchell is picking up Aliotti's scheme better than an All-American who had 6 interceptions last season?

Finally, Kelly's stance of not disclosing much to the media about injuries and off the field issues, doesn't allow insight as a fan into the process. There is good and bad in that. The good is he's protecting his players, and I'll defend Kelly's stance with the media until I die. The bad is we're only able to guess at why a player is or isn't playing. I'm trying to guess based on historical actions by Kelly, and this one seems to contradict, as does the Kiko situation. So why the change? Did the scrutiny of the media the last couple of years finally get to Kelly? Is he really still trying to implore some learned lesson into Harris (who by all accounts seems to have gotten the message)? I don't think this is the right football move, and by allowing Harris to play at all, he's made it a football thing again.

Am I allowed to question Kelly on these things yet?