Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich, the two most recent Oregon head coaches, have an interesting opportunity to work with Nick Saban at Alabama.
Steve Sarkisian, who was the USC head coach and then an offensive consultant for Alabama before briefly becoming their offensive coordinator, was hired by the Atlanta Falcons.
After losing in the Super Bowl on Sunday, Atlanta’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan accepted a position as the San Francisco 49ers head coach.
With Sarkisian replacing Shanahan, the rumors about who will lead the Crimson Tide offense next season are beginning to swirl.
Kelly and Helfrich are both names that have been tossed around on Twitter, including from some big-name journalists like Bruce Feldman.
A year ago, after being fired in Philadelphia, Kelly visited Alabama before the national championship game against Clemson.
Here’s what Saban, who played it cool, said about the meeting (via AL.com):
“Well, Chip Kelly is a good friend of myself and a lot of coaches on our staff, and he just happened to be in the area and he stopped by and visited with us for a little bit.”
Others, including ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, think the rumor has some legs as well.
Let’s not forget that the Crimson Tide just brought in a massively impressive recruiting class, including five-star Hawaiian quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Both Kelly and Helfrich had immense success with Marcus Mariota, who went to the same high school as Tagovailoa, won the Heisman Trophy and even led Oregon to a national championship appearance.
“Almost every Hawaii kid looks up to Marcus Mariota … Being able to hear guys compare me to Marcus was something very special, too. Everyone tries to be like Marcus.”
Meanwhile, Kelly and Helfrich (both unemployed) are owed very large sums of money from their previous gig(s).
If Kelly goes to Alabama, it would probably be a short-term hire and he would very likely leave after a season to work as a head coach again if and when the next appealing head coach position opens.
Helfrich could be a better long-term solution — he has proven himself as an offensive coordinator with a talented team but faltered as a college football head coach.
The two former Oregon coaches have obvious faults, but running a high-powered offense has never been one of them. This would give either an opportunity to win the national championship that they were never able to secure while they were coaching for the Ducks.