By Kevin McGuire
The football world is buzzing about Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and his inevitable return to college football. The former head coach of the Oregon Ducks is a hot name in the coaching carousel rumor mill at the college level, especially with a new and lucrative vacancy opening up at the University of Southern California following the termination of Steve Sarkisian’s contract earlier this week. Who will be one of USC’s top targets? Chip Kelly, of course. Step back from that ledge though, because there are some reasonably logical reasons why any speculation about Chip Kelly returning to the Pac-12 is either ill-advised or completely unnecessary.
Chip Kelly Is Not A Huge Fan Of Recruiting
There is no question Chip Kelly was a solid recruiter while at Oregon. Kelly was able to assemble some of the top classes in the country each year he was at the helm of the Ducks program, although he was aided by the support of Nike and Phil Knight’s dedication to making Oregon a national power. Make no mistake about it, Kelly would be a master recruiter at USC because the Trojans have always been able to bring in top-notch talent over the years. Despite the success in recruiting, Kelly is not as enamored by the process as you might think. He does not love it. Kelly is much more interested in scheming and reviewing film.
Nobody Is Going To Pay Chip Kelly $10 million
Some have been foolish to suggest Kelly will be offered $10 million to return to coaching at the college level, be it Texas or USC. That is simply not happening. First, schools like USC and Texas may have to pony up for a buyout of their current coaching contracts. The situation at USC may be different depending on whether or not the school can argue Steve Sarkisian was fired with a justified cause to void the contract, but that’s another story. After paying at least $3 million or more on a wasted coaching contract, the last thing either school would do, despite having deep pockets, would be to hand over $10 million to another coach. Chip Kelly’s market value is not even that high. Not yet, at least. Alabama’s Nick Saban and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh are each making just over $7 million after you account for max bonuses. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer is making just over $7 million after max bonuses. Saban and Meyer are national championship coaches, and Harbaugh has a resume fairly similar to that of Kelly’s.
USC may make a sizable offer to Kelly, but it will not be a $10 million offer. Remember, USC still has to pay an assistant coaching staff too.
Chip Kelly Just Gained GM Power
This last point is not one that should be overlooked. Kelly just grabbed GM responsibilities, giving him the power to start molding the team more to his liking. Some of those decisions have yet to pan out as Kelly may have liked, but he now has the ability to start constructing the team as he desires. Why would he give that up after just one season to go back to college? Kelly has a vision and now has been given the opportunity to see it through to the end, for better or worse. Kelly has never given any hint he is interested in going back to the college game, and now he has all of the tools he needs to reach his ultimate goal in the NFL at his disposal. That is not something a coach is going to give up so quickly.
There very well may be a future that sees Chip Kelly back in the college game, but that will not become a reality until sometime after 2016.
Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.