As soon as Mario Cristobal left to become the head coach in Miami, rumors about who should replace him as the head coach of the Oregon Ducks football team spread like wildfire.
Lane Kiffin was certainly a trendy rumor, though that got shot down on Wednesday night pretty strongly. BYU’s Kalani Sitake has been reportedly contacted about the position. And according to Oregonian reporter John Canzano, there are other candidates, including one currently in the NFL.
But perhaps the loudest rumors have been about Chip Kelly. Kelly, who spent just four years with Oregon, redefined their program as a national powerhouse. He led the Ducks to a 46-7 record with two Rose Bowls, a Fiesta Bowl, and a National Championship Game appearance.
Kelly’s predecessor, Mike Bellotti, also knows a lot about succeeding at Oregon. In 14 seasons there, he helped turn the program from basement dweller to conference champion. Kelly replaced him when Bellotti became AD and used the canvas he’d built to paint his own masterpiece.
Bellotti appeared this week on Sirius XM Pac-12 Radio and discussed whether or not a reunion with Kelly might be a good idea for the Ducks. He wasn’t so sure that they’d be able to recapture the magic from that moment in time.
“Chip did a tremendous job when he was there, both for me as an offensive coordinator and then for me when I was the AD, as the head coach,” Bellotti said. “And the reality is, I don’t know if it’s possible to recreate lightning in a bottle.
“At that time, we were the most innovative program in the nation and Chip did a tremendous job. He’s had not as much success since he left Oregon. I don’t know if he would be interested in coming back and I don’t know if there’s true interest. I think from a fan perspective, you always say, ‘well, let’s put the old band together.’ That group of coaches is no longer available. Many of them have retired, would not come back, some are coaching elsewhere.
“But I think that in this day and age, anything could happen. You’re never surprised by anything. When you start looking at it, (Lincoln) Riley going to USC and (Brian) Kelly going to LSU … it’s an interesting world. And I think if there was the belief that Chip could replicate, both in his mind and in the minds of the boosters and administrators, the kind of success he had here previously, then there’d be no question he’d be certainly one of the first people they call. I don’t know if that’s happening.”
Bellotti is tapping into a notion that many other people have assumed, that an Oregon-Chip Kelly reunion would be more of a nostalgic exercise than a true attempt to move the program forward. Still, as he said, stranger things have happened on the coaching carousel.