With Class and Humility, Oregon’s Chip Kelly Shows How It’s Done

chip-kellyLeading up to Thursday night’s Fiesta Bowl, speculation was rampant about the future of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly. Would he bolt the program with the flashy uniforms and high-octane offense for the NFL? Kelly turned the Ducks into a national power in a short time, going 46-7 in four seasons  with four BCS-bowl appearances.

We’ve seen plenty of coaches handle job speculation the absolute wrong way. Nick Saban, in 2006, comes to mind. Plenty of others have mishandled the media onslaught.

It only took a few questions during last night’s postgame news conference to get to the meat of the conversation. Would Kelly explore his options in the NFL?

He nailed it.

“I said I’ll always listen. And that’s what I’ll do,” Kelly said. “I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The success of our football program has always been about our guys. It’s an honor for someone to say they’d want to talk to me about maybe moving on to go coach in the National Football League. But it’s because of what those guys do. I’ll listen, and we’ll see.”

The next question was about the Philadelphia Eagles and if he’d had any conversations with the team about their vacant head coaching position.

“I haven’t talked yet,” Kelly said. “My agent is outstanding. He knows I want to coach the football team. There was nothing I was ever going to do that was going to distract me from this game, nor was it going to distract the players from this game. I’ll talk to Dave either tonight or tomorrow and see what he’s done on my behalf.”

Discussion over.

Kelly didn’t deny anything and he was honest. So refreshing. Now everyone knows where Kelly stands and will simply wait and see. Of course, Oregon wants to keep him and will back up the Brinks truck to do so, but it’ll come down to the challenge for Kelly. Does he want it or not?

If Kelly does leave Oregon for the NFL, no one will criticize him for the way he handled the process. In fact, he likely gained a lot of fans after his straight-to-the-point words last night. More than six years later, people still talk about the horrendous way Saban left the Miami Dolphins for Alabama. Let’s not even bring up the way he left LSU for the Dolphins.

Chip Kelly put on a clinic Thursday night, off the field, that a lot of coaches could learn from. For that matter, a lot of people who deal with the media in general could learn from him. Honesty works…and there’s no concern that lies will come back to haunt you.

The media is much more forgiving if it is considered part of the process rather than left on the outside looking in.

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