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Chip Kelly Chooses Oregon over the NFL

Chip Kelly has chosen to remain as the head coach of the Oregon Ducks, passing up the opportunity to become a head coach in the NFL, according to ESPN.

The 49-year-old Kelly garnered interest from the NFL after turning the Oregon football program into a powerhouse with his fast-breaking offense. In his four seasons as the Ducks coach he has gone 46-7 and appeared in four straight BCS bowl games. Kelly arrived to the Ducks in 2007 as the offensive coordinator under former coach Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire.

Kelly held extensive interviews with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles over the weekend. The Browns quickly passed on Kelly after he appeared hesitant about making the jump to the NFL. The Eagles removed him from their list after it appeared that he wanted significant control over personnel on his roster, according to CBSSports.com.

This is not the first time that Kelly has flirted with leaving the college ranks to go to the NFL. Two years ago the Browns almost lured Kelly away from Oregon, and last year he almost accepted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching job.

Kelly, who still has five years remaining on his current contract, made a base salary of $2.8 million this season. If he had chosen to fill either coaching vacancy, his buyout with Oregon would have been $3.5 million.

There had been much speculation swirling about Kelly’s departure to leave for the NFL, but his return comes as a surprise and is welcomed by Oregon fans. The Ducks were prepared to promote offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to the head coaching position if Kelly had bolted.

But Kelly made his love for University of Oregon known after the Fiesta Bowl.

“It’s a special place with special people. They accepted me six years ago when I was at New Hampshire. Not many people knew about me,” Kelly said after defeating the Kansas State Wildcats 35-17 in Thursday night. “Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot.”

In returning to Oregon, Kelly may face sanctions from an NCAA investigation about possible recruiting violations.

The investigation surrounds the school’s use of recruiting services, which include a $25,000 check sent to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a close relationship with a player who decided to commit to Oregon.

Oregon and Kelly have worked closely with the NCAA to resolve the issue, but Kelly feels good about how the investigation is being handled.

“We’ve cooperated fully with them. If they want to talk to us again, we’ll continue to cooperate fully,” he said following the Fiesta Bowl. “I feel confident in the situation.”

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