With Fiesta Bowl over, courtship of Chip Kelly heats up
CLEVELAND (AP) The courtship of Chip Kelly is under way.
The Browns and at least two other NFL teams are expected to interview Oregon's offensive-minded coach, who said following Thursday night's Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State that he hopes to have the process "wrapped up quickly."
Along with the Browns, the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly in Arizona and have scheduled meetings over the next two days with Kelly.
The 49-year-old said he's entering the interview open-minded. He turned down an offer from Tampa Bay last year to return for his fourth season at Oregon, where he is 46-7. He has boosted the school's national profile with a high-powered offense capable of turning any game into a track meet.
"It's more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit," Kelly said after the Ducks beat No. 7 Kansas State 35-17. "I've been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that's what this deal is all about for me. It's not going to affect us in terms of we're not on the road (recruiting). I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are.
"I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be."
Kelly is at or near the top of the Browns' list of candidates to replace Pat Shurmur, who was fired earlier this week after going 9-23 in two seasons. Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have been conducting interviews in Arizona all week, searching for the team's sixth coach since 1999.
The Browns have declined comment on any interviews.
Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton confirmed he interviewed with Cleveland earlier this week. The Browns have reportedly met with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who removed himself from any consideration on Thursday night and intends to stay at the school.
Kelly doesn't have any NFL coaching experience, but aspects of his up-tempo offense are already being used by some teams.
Kelly wouldn't say if he was leaning one way or another following the Ducks' bowl win.
"I said I'll always listen, and that's what I'll do," he said. "I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The success of our football program has always been about our guys. It's an honor for someone to say they'd want to talk to me about maybe moving on to go coach in the National Football League. But it's because of what those guys do. I'll listen, and we'll see."
Oregon could be facing possible NCAA sanctions for the school's use of recruiting services, but Kelly indicated he isn't running from anything.
"We've cooperated fully with them," he said. "If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully. I feel confident in the situation."
Oregon's players gave Kelly a Gatorade bath as the final seconds ticked off the clock in Thursday night's game, and afterward a few of the Ducks seemed resigned to their coach moving on.
"We'll have to see," quarterback Marcus Mariota said. "Whatever he decides to do, we're all behind him. He's an unbelievable coach. He's not only a football coach, but he's someone that you can look to and learn a lot of life lessons from. Whatever happens, happens. But we're all behind him.
"We'll see where it takes us."