Oregon has asked for permission from UCLA to speak with coach Chip Kelly about the Ducks’ coaching vacancy, according to The Oregonian‘s John Canzano. In doing so, it appears Oregon is serious about making a splash hire of its own to counter USC’s recent move of swiping Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma.
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens made it clear that he would conduct a nationwide search after Mario Cristobal left to take the same job at Miami, but as Canzano notes, targeting Kelly signals that a more familiar name from the candidate pool may be of interest.
Kelly, of course, was the head coach of the Ducks from 2009-12 and served as Mike Bellotti’s offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008. During his memorable four-year run as the head coach in Eugene, Kelly compiled a 46-7 record, won three straight Pac-12 championships and made an appearance in the 2011 BCS Championship Game against Auburn. The Ducks notched consecutive top-five finishes in Kelly’s final three seasons and the noted offensive guru never lost more than one conference game in any of his four seasons.
Since arriving at UCLA prior to the 2018 season, Kelly has amassed a less-successful 18-25 record with the Bruins. However, UCLA enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2021, going 8-4 and earning a Holiday Bowl berth against No. 18 NC State. The Bruins ranked atop the Pac-12 in scoring offense at 36.5 points per game and second in total offense at 441.3 yards per game.
Following the 2012 season, Kelly answered the call to the NFL first with the Philadelphia Eagles and then with the San Francisco 49ers. Kelly went 26-21 with the Eagles from 2013-15, notching back-to-back 10-6 efforts in his first two seasons and a playoff appearance in 2013. He was fired by the Eagles with one game left in the 2015 season after a 6-9 record. He took over the 49ers the following season, but was fired after a 2-14 record.
Kelly apparently isn’t the only candidate for the Ducks’ vacancy with Canzano reporting that Cal coach Justin Wilcox interviewed with Oregon on Thursday.