College to NFL leap not seamless

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, left, introduces new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, right, during a press conference on Thursday Jan. 17 in Philadelphia. — AP PHOTO/MATT ROURKE

Now that Chip Kelly has been hired as the new head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, he has a lot of work to do in the coming months.

Kelly replaces Andy Reid, who finished this season with a 4-12 record and was in Philadelphia for 14 years. He has a laundry list of things to get done before he even starts his job.

He has to put together a staff and make some key personnel decisions. Of course, the big decision will be at quarterback and deciding whether the Eagles will go with Michael Vick or Nick Foles.

He has to go through the NFL free agency period. He has the NFL draft and after that rookie camps, mini camps, OTAs and training camp in the summer. This includes preseason games. Then, finally, the regular season will be here.

Kelly is regarded by many experts as an offensive genius. His hurry up offense has been his trademark in college football. Kelly, 49, had been with the University of Oregon since 2007, including the last four years as head coach. He compiled a tremendous 46-7 (.868) record as head coach of the Ducks. He took the Oregon program to an elite level.

Under Kelly this season, Oregon averaged nearly 50 points a game (49.6) and his four-year scoring average with the Ducks was 44.7 points a game. Oregon finished with a 12-1 record last season and defeated Kansas State, 35-17, in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3.

Oregon has played in four BCS bowl games including a national title game against Auburn two years ago. Kelly has won three PAC 12 championships. With all these haughty credentials, he has quite a challenge ahead of him.

This is Kelly’s first head coaching job in the NFL. Other college coaches like Kelly have not done well moving from college football to the NFL. Steve Spurrier is a good example. Spurrier was a terrific head coach at the University of Florida from 1990-2001. Like Kelly, he was known as a tremendous offensive coach. His teams threw the ball all over the field. They scored a lot of points. He won six Southeastern Conference championships and was national coach of the year five times. He won a national championship in 1997.

After that, he decided to try the NFL. He was hired as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. Spurrier thought he could come to the NFL and run his offense the way he did with the Gators. The Old Ball Coach had a rough time getting his offense in high gear. He didn’t last very long. Spurrier spent two seasons (2002-2003) with the Redskins before going back to college. He’s now the head coach at South Carolina.

Nick Saban, the Alabama head coach who just won a national championship, had a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins (2005-2006) before returning to the college ranks. Prior to going to the NFL, Saban was the head coach at LSU. He has won four national championships in his career. He was able to win in a big way on the collegiate level. The NFL was a different story.

It’s going to take some time for Kelly to make the transition from major college football to the NFL. He has a lot of ground to cover. The Eagles are hoping he bucks the trend and gets the team back on the winning track.

 

Contact Staff Writer Donald Hunt at (215) 893-5719 or dhunt@phillytrib.com.

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