From Comcast SportsNetChip Kelly is staying at Oregon.Two people with knowledge of the decision confirmed Sunday night that Kelly is passing up a chance to coach in the NFL to remain with the Ducks. One person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Oregon and Kelly haven't formally announced the decision, while the other person wasn't authorized to reveal Kelly's plans. The decision was first reported by ESPN.Kelly had lengthy interviews this weekend with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, and also talked to the Buffalo Bills. Last year, he had talks with Tampa Bay.The 49-year-old coach earned a base salary of 2.8 million this past season last at Oregon and has five years left on his contract. The No. 5 Ducks, known for the innovative offense that Kelly devised, beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night to finish the season 12-1.Kelly is 46-7 in four years at Oregon and the Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games -- including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago -- and won three Pac-12 championships. He originally came to the Ducks in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire.Earlier Sunday, a person familiar with Cleveland's coaching search said the team passed on Kelly after he was indecisive about making the leap to the NFL. The Browns nearly had a deal with Kelly two days ago, but they've moved on to other candidates, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search.The buyout for Kelly's contract with Oregon is 3.5 million.Kelly's decision to stay at Oregon came as a surprise after months of speculation that this season was his last with the Ducks. It appeared that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was the leading candidate to replace him.Ducks fans at the Fiesta Bowl made their feelings clear by chanting "We want Chip!" during the victory celebration.Nikeco-founder and Oregon mega-booster Phil Knight proclaimed to a reporter following the game: "I was one of em."Kelly himself said about the NFL interest: "I'll listen and we'll see."But at the same time, he acknowledged a love for Oregon."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. "Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot."In staying with Oregon, Kelly will still have to deal with fallout from an NCAA investigation into the school's use of recruiting services.The inquiry is the result of reports that surfaced in 2011 concerning payments Oregon made to two such services, including a 25,000 check sent to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a relationship with a player who committed to Oregon.Last month, Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is headed toward a hearing with the NCAA committee on infractions because the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on appropriate sanctions. Yahoo cited two unidentified sources.Earlier this year, Oregon requested a summary disposition in the case. The school presented a report to the infractions committee outlining violations the school believed occurred and appropriate sanctions. But that request was apparently turned down.The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations."We've cooperated fully with them. If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully," Kelly said following the Fiesta Bowl. "I feel confident in the situation."Kelly explained that he stayed at Oregon following the interest from Tampa Back because he had "unfinished business" with the Ducks. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 loss to Stanford on Nov. 17.
Michael Kopech is not likely to make 30-plus starts in 2020.
Still one of the highest ranked pitching prospects in the game, Kopech is slated to return from his Tommy John recovery when spring training rolls around in February. He’ll be without restriction when the White Sox report to Camelback Ranch.
But his 2020 season will not be a full one, per say, as the White Sox will be cautious with a guy they expect to be a key part of their rotation for a long time.
Speaking during the GM meetings last week in Arizona, general manager Rick Hahn said Kopech will be on an innings limit of some kind during the 2020 season. Though he was hesitant to put a specific number on that limit.
“I don't think there's going to be a magical number,” he said. “And it's been our experience that when you set the specific number, it in some ways boxes you in a little bit.”
Whether the White Sox know how many innings they want Kopech to pitch and are just refusing to make that knowledge public, or they’re truly waiting to see how Kopech fares in the spring before settling on a number, there are multiple elements going into that decision.
First is the injury, with Kopech not pitching in a game outside of instructional league since Sept. 5, 2018. Kopech’s spent the last year-plus working his way back, and by the time Opening Day 2020 rolls around, it will be almost 19 months since that last major league appearance. The White Sox don’t want to let the flame-throwing Kopech let it all loose and run out of gas because his body isn’t back to the regular pitching routine.
The other is the experience. Kopech has thrown 14.1 innings of big league ball. That’s it. The 146.1 innings he threw between the majors and Triple-A in 2018 are the most he’s thrown in a single season in his pro career, throwing 134.1 innings the year prior at Double-A and Triple-A.
“We'll react to being fully cognizant of the fact that he's coming off of a career high, previously, of about 140-ish or so innings,” Hahn said. “And obviously coming off the surgery now, we have to be cognizant of the fact that this isn't a guy that's going to be out there, necessarily, for seven months taking the ball every fifth day, and we'll have to plan for that accordingly.”
The reason all this is important is because the White Sox might be in a position to compete for a playoff spot in 2020, depending on how the offseason goes, and that could mean wanting to deploy a talented pitcher like Kopech in meaningful games down the stretch and perhaps even in October, should that opportunity arise.
So you might not see Kopech as part of the Opening Day rotation and just piling up the necessary innings before getting shut down for the year. The White Sox might get a little more creative.
“That's what's going to be the trick, whether that's skipping him from time to time or managing his work load early in the season,” Hahn said. “All those things are possibilities, it's just going to be a matter of — let's first get to spring training, let's see him throwing the ball healthy again without restriction, feeling good about where he's at, and we'll come up with a plan.”
Now the idea that Kopech might not be a part of the White Sox starting rotation right away might come as a head-scratcher to some. Hahn has been hinting at that possibility for a while now, dating back to the middle of the summer. Kopech was given a spot in the rotation when he made his big league debut at the end of the 2018 season, but apparently it’s yet to be finalized that he would automatically return to that spot upon his return from injury.
Hahn has laid out that Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dylan Cease will be part of the White Sox rotation next season and confirmed last week that the team is looking to add a pair of starting pitchers this winter. That makes five, and that might make it easy for the team to start slowly with Kopech, be that in the minor leagues or in the bullpen or wherever.
Don’t get too nervous, as Kopech still figures to do plenty of big league work in 2020. But it sounds like the final decision on everything involving Kopech will have to wait until he gets going in spring training.
“It's too early to say that (he’ll be part of the Opening Day rotation in 2020),” Hahn said. “Let's see what other possible additions we make, and let's see exactly how he is come spring training.
“You've got to keep in mind, this kid, come late February, the first time he'll face big league hitters, that'll be the first time he's done it in 18, 19, 20 months. So let's just see where he's at.
“Our view of him for the long term is that he's going to be an important part of a very good rotation. How quickly he gets there, we're going to take our time getting there.”
Mental health has long had a stigma, but with further awareness of the importance of maintaining positive mental health, that is changing.
“Going to therapy is not a luxury, it is a necessity,” licensed clinical social worker Dr. Gail Grabczynski said. “Just as you go and get evaluated for physical ailments, you should and get evaluated for mental health ailments.”
Grabczynski was the Bears lead mental health clinician from 2005-2016. She also worked closely with former Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall.
Marshall was able to not only get his life in order, but also speak freely about his mental health. He refused to do his sessions in an office and instead did them where everyone could see him. He was trying to end the stigma of mental health and athletes by showing everyone that he was not afraid to talk about it in a public setting.
“We need to continue to move this forward,” Grabczynski said. “Not only do we see it here domestically. We see it internationally that there is a push and a movement forward regarding mental health and the need for people to understand the importance of it.”
See more from Grabczynski in the interview above.
This is all part of a larger message and project from the NBC Sports Regional Networks. Religion of Sports — the media company founded by Tom Brady, Michael Strahan and Gotham Chopra — has partnered with NBC Sports regional networks for a new one-hour documentary addressing the issue of mental health in sports. “HeadStrong: Mental Health and Sports” is executive produced by six-time NFL Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall.
“Mental health issues have been pushed to the forefront of our national conversation,” Ted Griggs, president, Group Leader and Strategic Production & Programming, NBC Sports Regional Networks, added. “Thanks to athletes like Brandon Marshall, Kevin Love, Michael Phelps and Missy Franklin, and executives such as NBA commissioner Adam Silver, we know that our sports heroes face mental health challenges, just like so many others. We hope this project will advance that conversation and show people that resources and assistance are available to everyone.”