Plenty Of Pros For Kelly To Go Pro
Last week’s announcement that Oregon football coach Chip Kelly had flip-flopped and taken the Philadelphia Eagles job demonstrates what a difficult decision it can be to leave college for the pros. For a proven college coach like Kelly, the Oregon job was hard to beat. He had just defeated Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl and finished the season at No. 2 in the polls. He had a terrific staff, some of the best facilities in the nation and fabulous financial support from Nike’s Phil Knight. He was highly paid and could nearly dictate the terms of his employment.
But the job came with the constant scrutiny of the NCAA into every aspect of his program, especially recruiting. And the NFL offered more money and the huge challenge of proving his fiercely up-tempo offense could win against the best defenses in the world. The lure of no recruiting and no NCAA is very appealing; the NFL is pure football all the time. As the late Raider owner Al Davis liked to say, it’s “just win, baby!”
Kelly had talked with the Eagles, Browns and Bills before initially deciding to stay at Oregon, but clearly wrestled with the decision and was finally convinced by Eagles owner Jeff Lurie to take the plunge. For some coaches, like Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh, the NFL has worked well. For coaches like Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier, the NFL is just a bad memory. Spurrier had little success and less appetite for the NFL lifestyle, and Saban found his dictatorial style a tough sell to professional athletes. Both have since flourished in the college game.
The NFL is not for everybody, but owners will continue to want to hire successful college coaches. Kelly may discover that it’s tough to win in the NFL without an excellent quarterback.
* Hawaii’s football fans will look at another Pro Bowl this weekend and will see the usual dropouts and add-ons. What they need to see Sunday is a better product than was delivered last year. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has not taken eliminating the game off the table if the product can’t be improved.
* Golf fans in the 50th state will see the Hawaii events move to the seventh and eighth spot in the 2014 PGA tour lineup. It might be time to think out of the box to keep the events alive. I like NBC analyst and Maui resident Mark Rolfing’s plan to move the Hawaii events into October or November with an eye toward keeping the tournaments well-stocked with the best pros. Especially after getting to see the future stars of the PGA play so well in the Sony Open, it would be a crying shame to see the tournaments disappear.