Before Chip Kelly took over at Oregon in 2009, the Ducks had won 10 or more games in a season only four times. Kelly has reached that goal all four years, including this season where all 11 wins were by double-digits. But some Oregon boosters hope that Kelly finally makes the jump to the NFL so they can hire someone more "fan friendly."
Kelly, 45-7 at Oregon has his "blur" spread offense in high gear, as witnessed by the 62-51 beating of USC earlier this season. But aside from Super Sugar Daddy Phil Knight, the other boosters have found access to the program dramatically cut. Even Knight was barred from practices before the 2010 BCS championship game.
According to one report, Kelly's predecessors, Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti, were much better at the schmoozing and fundraising part of the job.
"As revolutionary as Chip has been on the field with the no-huddle offense, he's been more revolutionary in how he acts toward social functions," says an Oregon booster who requested anonymity. The source said the relationship between Kelly and boosters is strained.
When Kelly began at Oregon as offensive coordinator, his contract included a $50,000 incentive-a third of his $150,000 base salary-to make specific public appearances, which he dutifully made. His current contract makes no mention of any similarly required appearances.
"He's good at talking to people," says Jack Roberts, "but he's not a glad-handing guy."
Dan Dutton, a booster and former walk-on player at Oregon under Rich Brooks, says: "Fundraising and socializing are not his favorite activities."
Kelly quit going to a weekly booster club meeting in Portland during the season, instead connecting through videoconferencing. He has also passed up the summer golf outing, instead sending his assistants.
His dealings with the press are hardly much better.
A press conference Dec. 7 after Oregon's first practice for the Fiesta Bowl was typical. Wearing his trademark white visor and black-and-green Oregon polo shirt, Kelly fielded questions in his usual rapid-fire manner. He spoke as fast as possible while saying little to the assembled gaggle of reporters.
After he was asked how many NFL teams had contacted him, Kelly snapped, "Not gonna talk about that, and the answer is zero."
When asked a repetitive question, he replied, "Already talked about that, big boy."
The interview was over in nine minutes.
Kelly and the Ducks face Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3rd and the rumors remain that he will jump to the NFL were dealing with distractions such as booster and the press can be minimized. If he does depart, I would imagine the Oregon boosters would be on the phone looking for a "Mack Brown" type of coach.