Oregon’s Chip Kelly is headed for the NFL. He’s taking over the Philadelphia Eagles, and a remarkable success story continues. A guy who spent 1994 through 2006 at the University of New Hampshire, none of them as head coach, now is head coach of one of the NFL’s flagship franchises. And that could be good news for a lot of college football programs.
Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich appears set to take over for Kelly, and while Helfrich might be a fantastic choice, it’s not clear that any coach could match Kelly’s record of 46-7 at Oregon. The chances are much greater that Oregon will slip than Oregon will remain at the same elite level or even rise. It’s that way for program as successful as the Ducks have been. That’s why in Corvallis and Palo Alto and Seattle and Los Angeles, they’ve got to be thrilled that Kelly is NFL-bound. Same as the SEC would be ecstatic if Nick Saban or Les Miles bolted Alabama or LSU. Same as Manhattan and Austin and Stillwater would be thrilled if Bob Stoops left OU. Much more room to fall than to rise.
The Ducks have finished second, fourth and third in the final polls since 2010. That’s a phenomenal run of success. If you ranked the college football programs over the last 3-5 years, the top is easy: 1. Alabama; 2. Oregon; 3. LSU.
Oregon has an excellent program. Superb talent, a proven system, great resources. No reason why Helfrich can’t continue to win big. But to win at Kelly’s level? That’s an incredibly difficult assignment. That’s why Kelly’s departure is good news all over the country. Chances are, catching Oregon just became a little easier.