I’m a firm believer that Chip Kelly was one of the best coaches in college football. In recent years, Oregon has been a regular contender on the national scene and although he lost big games against SEC teams, he was not an adversary to be taken lightly.
What is interesting is that as Kelly leaves, he leaves a college football environment that is in some ways playing catch up to what he has been doing at Oregon. Schools are moving in the direction of Chip Kelly style football, not vice versa. Texas A&M under Kevin Sumlin is a program that comes to mind immediately.
Yes, Alabama and Notre Dame – the two teams who squared off for the BCS Championship this season – run a traditional offense, but as teams look to find ways around a dominant Alabama team, you’re seeing them run to the up tempo offense as a possible solution.
Critics dismiss Kelly as a coach who ran a gimmicky offense and got crushed when he played real football teams like Auburn and LSU. I disagree with this view. I believe Kelly is a very good coach who ran a system he knew would win in the Pac-12 and one that would give him an opportunity to play for championships. It did and it did. Remember, Auburn didn’t exactly blow out Oregon in the BCS Championship Game.
As we move toward a college football playoff where 4 teams are going to dance for the national title, Oregon under Kelly was definitely expected to be a regular participant. While Oregon will try to keep the same system and same success going without Kelly, I think assuming nothing will change underestimates what Kelly brought to the team as a coach and a leader. As such, future SEC playoff participants do potentially have a strong adversary out of the way in the years ahead.
If Oregon isn’t as strong in the years ahead, it means maybe a weaker team could get their slot in the playoff or it means it is easier for a Lane Kiffin USC team to win the Pac-12.
As a college football fan, Chip Kelly was great for the sport. Oregon was one of the very few teams outside the SEC that I watched regularly in recent years. I can’t say that this will be the same moving forward. For SEC teams that expect to be in the national race in the years ahead, Chip Kelly’s absence from the picture can’t hurt.
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