Tennessee wasn’t the only SEC fan base getting in on the coaching search silliness.
Florida message boards were buzzing with activity Tuesday when a plane was scheduled to fly from Gainesville to an airport in Connecticut close to ESPN’s campus. Since former Oregon coach Chip Kelly, now an ESPN analyst, is a reported candidate for the vacant Florida head-coaching gig, speculation spread rapidly.
Kelly was asked about his reported Gators coaching candidacy Sunday morning on “SportsCenter” and the craziness that surrounded that flight. He took it in stride and said he was home in New Hampshire during the week.
“I was in New Hampshire last week,” Kelly said. “I really enjoy doing what I’m doing now. I think Florida is an outstanding program and has had so much success with Urban [Meyer] and Steve Spurrier. I think whoever gets that job would be really lucky.”
Aware of the internet frenzy, Florida AD Scott Stricklin tweeted a photo of himself on campus in Gainesville that afternoon.
— Scott Stricklin (@ScottStricklin) November 14, 2017
He’s replied to a few UF fans over the course of the coaching search, trying to squash some of the rumors out there before they spread too far.
As far as Kelly is concerned, our Pete Thamel reported last week that Florida has done its homework, “thoroughly vetting” the former Oregon coach. Thamel reported Kelly is one of three prime candidates along with UCF coach Scott Frost and Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen.
Here’s the book on Kelly relative to Florida, which moved on from Jim McElwain last month:
Kelly is a proven commodity, as going 46-7 in four seasons at Oregon established him as one of college football’s most innovative minds of this generation. He’s the surest bet on the board to rejuvenate a program.
There are some quirks to Kelly, many of which revolve around his stated preference of being locked in on coaching his team. Kelly isn’t keen on the booster glad-handing, rubber-chicken banquet speeches and general day-to-day hysteria that come with high-profile coaching jobs. Kelly has a low-key personality off the field, and he’s reiterated to friends that “fit and people” will be the ultimate determinations of where he coaches next.
Kelly wasn’t thought to be intrigued by SEC jobs, but Florida presents a different dynamic as it has more of Kelly’s preferred East Coast vibe. For now, it’s not known if each party is completely sold on each other. But the mutual exploration process is underway.
In addition to Florida, Kelly is also being connected to the UCLA job, which became open following the firing of Jim Mora on Sunday. Kelly coached at Oregon in the Pac-12 from 2007-12. There’s a line of thinking that says returning to the West Coast would be a better fit:
What’s unknown here is where Kelly’s head is. He’s famously reclusive, even to those close to him. He’s been speculatively linked to UCLA, a place where he could potentially hide in plain sight amid the din of Los Angeles.
We could see Kelly back on a college sideline next year.
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