The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came close to naming Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as the team’s next head coach, replacing Raheem Morris. The Bucs secretly interviewed Kelly last week and entered into contract discussions with the two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year on Sunday. Yet talks broke down late Sunday night and early Monday morning with Kelly having a change of heart about wanting to leave the Ducks program and deciding to stay at Oregon.
On Monday, Kelly issued the following statement about his desire to remain with the Ducks.
“I am flattered by the interest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ organization,” Kelly said. “I enjoyed meeting with the Glazer family and General Manager Mark Dominik but after numerous discussions, I concluded that I have some unfinished business to complete at the University of Oregon.”
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens also issued a statement on Kelly’s decision.
“The Tampa Bay Buccaneers asked for permission to engage in conversation with Coach Kelly, which was granted,” Mullins said. “The University of Oregon is one of the nation’s preeminent college football programs and, as such, it comes as no surprise the NFL is interested in our personnel. We are pleased with Coach Kelly’s decision to remain as our head coach. Coach Kelly has provided great leadership and remains committed to building on our position among the elite college football programs in the country.”
As a result, the Bucs have removed Kelly from their list of candidates. If the team is looking for offensive minds similar to that of Kelly, Dominik and the Glazers may look towards SMU head coach June Jones, who has NFL experience with Houston, Detroit, Atlanta and San Diego, or New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride.
Jones, 58, has extensive experience operating a run-and-shoot offense in the NFL, and served as the Falcons head coach from 1994-96. He has successfully turned around Hawaii (1999-2007) and SMU (2008-present), transforming both schools into bowl teams with his imaginative offense.
Gilbride, 60, was the San Diego Chargers head coach from 1997-98 and has worked in New York as the offensive coordinator since 2007. He previously served as the Giants QBs coach from 2004-06. Gilbride has also had NFL stops in Houston (1989-94), Jacksonville (1995-96), Pittsburgh (1999-2000) and Buffalo (2002-03), serving as either a quarterbacks coach or an offensive coordinator for those teams.
Both Jones and Gilbride have studied under noted passing game guru Mouse Davis, who is known as the originator of the run-and-shoot offense, which was a predecessor to the spread passing attacks featured in pro and college football today. It is unknown if Tampa Bay has interest in interviewing either Jones or Gilbride, but if there was significant interest in Kelly either one could be an option.
The Bucs have already interviewed Jerry Gray, Mike Sherman, Marty Schottenheimer, Brad Childress, Mike Zimmer, Tom Clements, Rob Chudzinski and Joe Philbin, who was named the Dolphins new head coach on Saturday.