Chip Kelly went straight from recuits’ homes to the NFL, accepting the position as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s one of the best coaches and brightest minds in the sport, but he has left Oregon well placed to succeed after his departure.
Oregon had prepared for this. Chip Kelly almost left for Tampa after 2011. It was understood 2012 might be his last season. Oregon had a succession plan, keeping the staff intact with offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich assuming control. Recruits weren’t signing under the delusion that Chip Kelly would be there their entire four years. Having him decide to stay on for 2013 initially was a bonus.
Oregon can weather his departure long-term. The Ducks have an elite, stable and sustainable program. Looking at SRS, this team has finished in the top six five of the past six years and in the Top 15 seven of the last eight. They still have Phil Knight’s beneficence. It is only in recent seasons they have been begun tapping the recruiting and revenue benefits of a strong national brand. They should be strong and relevant.
Oregon can weather his departure next season. This team is still loaded. Some of Oregon’s best recruits are just becoming upperclassmen. The Ducks return almost their entire offense from last season. They bring back DeAnthony Thomas. They bring back a quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who was among the best players in the country last season, as a freshman.
The Ducks will win games against their softish 2013 schedule . The one matchup where Oregon may not be a heavy favorite is at Stanford on Nov. 7. The best bet for a tricky game is at Washington or at Arizona. Oregon beat those teams by an average margin of 40 points in 2012.
Losing Kelly may rob the Ducks of that extra bit of ingenuity needed to reach the BCS Title Game. There are still the outstanding NCAA issues that could lead to sanctions. It would still be a shock, though were the Ducks to not win around 10-11 games and be in the mix for a fifth-straight BCS bowl. Via RJ in Vegas, Oregon dropped from 4 to 1 to win the BCS title to 7 to 1. Sounds about right.
[Photo via Getty]
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