As the newly appointed head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, Chip Kelly faces the daunting challenge of tailoring his high powered, high tempo offense to fit a NFL scheme preparing to square off against more formidable and intimidating professional defenses than he is accustomed to at the college level. As a rookie head coach in the NFL, Kelly’s time is preoccupied with newfound trials and tribulations as he prepares to coach in what has become one of the nation’s most cutthroat and unforgiving industries. One thing Kelly will not be burdened in his first season with the Eagles is the impending sanctions he left behind at the University of Oregon. In the wake of a potential scandal, the University of Oregon football team finds themselves in the midst of serving a two year self-imposed probationary period for recruiting violations that occurred during Kelly’s tenure as head coach.
Kelly, who is accredited with reviving the Oregon Ducks football program to the pinnacle of the sport, follows in the footsteps of former rival Pete Carroll as dominating college coaches who chose to leave their beloved universities in the midst of impending NCAA sanctions. Of course college football is no stranger to rule violations or controversy as its past is marred with stories of powerhouse football teams who forwent the NCAA rulebook and paid high priority recruits in order to secure their commitment. The SMU Mustangs, Miami Hurricanes, and USC Trojans come to the forefront of the pay for play discussion, as each program rose to national prominence and acclaim by demonstrating the ability to sustain success by acquiring the top recruits year after year. After the glory days of these tainted programs fade, the inconvenient truth of these scandals surface forcing the program into a state of infamy being remembered more for their transgressions than their excellence on the field.
What’s particularly troubling about the recent wave of NCAA violations is the fact that the coaches who are supposedly accountable for the programs actions, are getting off scott free while their programs face the brunt of the punishment. Like Carroll, Kelly had turned away multiple NFL head coaching positions throughout his historic run at the helm of the nation’s top tier program. Both had cited their love for the game and more specifically for the kids they coach and ultimately mentor into adults as the primary reasons as to why they didn’t want to coach at the next level. That love and respect for the game and their players seemed to vanquish all too quickly as both opted to bolt for the NFL the second the NCAA threatened their programs with sanctions.
What gets lost in the midst of these controversies is the fact that the student athletes are the ones who are ultimately getting punished for their coach’s wrongdoing. When Carroll moved onto greater pastures in the NFL, USC was hit with a two year post season ban denying many players Carroll recruited the ability to peruse a national title. These coaches owe more to their programs and their athletes; they deserve to serve the deration of the punishment with their teams or not coach at all throughout their probationary period. With Oregon’s future in question, Kelly has the chance to shine bright under the professional lights proving once again that college coaches prevail in making a mockery of the sport.