Students at the University of Oregon responded with mixed reactions to rumors that head coach Chip Kelly would leave the football program to take a job in the NFL.
The story, first reported by KGW News in Portland, picked up steam Sunday night as multiple sources confirmed the report. Several media outlets regarded Kelly’s move to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a done deal, before he apparently backtracked and decided to stay at Oregon.
“I was kind of miffed,” freshman Victoria McCauley said of hearing the news that Kelly would leave. “I feel like loyalty to team and to school takes precedent over [professional aspirations].”
Freshman Connor Wingo saw the possible move as an “inevitable” result of Kelly’s coaching success. Kelly has led the Ducks to BCS bowl games in all three of his seasons as head coach, including an appearance in the 2011 BCS National Championship.
Although he is pleased that Kelly will return for at least one more season, Wingo believes the Ducks could be successful without him.
“We’ve got a lot of talented athletes right now,” Wingo said. “I’m pretty sure we could find someone to install a system.”
Kelly’s reported departure also led some fans and journalists to speculate that the NCAA’s ongoing investigation into Oregon’s recruiting practices contributed to his decision to leave. Freshman Daniel Porter interpreted the reports as a sign that Kelly expected the NCAA to impose sanctions on the program in the near future.
“I don’t know if I would have been mad or disappointed,” Porter said. “I would have been concerned.”
The NCAA investigation centers on Oregon’s alleged involvement with Willie Lyles, a Texas man accused of steering recruits towards schools in return for payment. The NCAA officially informed Oregon in September that it would begin an inquiry regarding the program’s dealings with Lyles.