Chip Kelly could be making a return to Oregon.
The university asked UCLA for permission to interview Kelly, who is currently the Bruins’ head coach, for the Ducks’ vacant coaching position, the Oregonian’s John Canzano reported Thursday. The report came three days after Mario Cristobal left Oregon for Miami (Fla.).
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Canzano speculated on Twitter that Oregon’s interest in Kelly indicates the athletic program may be interested in returning to its “comfort zone.”
Kelly served as Oregon’s offensive coordinator in 2007 and 2008 before being promoted to head coach in 2009. In four seasons in charge of the Ducks, his teams went 46-7, won three consecutive Pac-12 conference championships and reached the 2011 BCS national championship game against Auburn.
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Kelly, 58, used his collegiate success to move to the NFL. He coached the Eagles from 2013-15 before being fired. He was the 49ers’ head coach for the 2016 season, again before being fired. He is 28-35 overall with one playoff berth in the pros.
Kelly is 18-25 in four seasons at UCLA, but he produced his best season with the program in 2021 as the Bruins finished 8-4 (6-3 Pac-12). They will play in the Holiday Bowl against N.C. State on Dec. 28.
The Los Angeles Daily News reported when Kelly was hired by UCLA in 2018 that Kelly must pay a $9 million buyout if he leaves for another program within the first four years of his contract. His fourth contract year at UCLA ends Jan. 15, 2022. The university must pay the buyout if it fires him “without cause” during that time period. Kelly signed a five-year, $23.3 million contract with UCLA in December 2017.
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