Oregon Ducks

Chip Kelly to Alabama as OC under Nick Saban makes zero sense

Oregon Ducks

Chip Kelly doesn't have a job.

Alabama has a vacancy at offensive coordinator.

1+1 in the sports world of connect the dots = Kelly to Alabama.

However: reality + logic = no way in hell that happens.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban has been left with a huge job opening after former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who held the job for all of one game, accepted the newly vacated job of offensive coordinator with the Atlanta Falcons.

While a Saban-Kelly marriage would be as entertaining as all get out, it would appear to be far more likely that the vacancy would be filled by Oregon offensive coordinator and former Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal, who was Alabama's offensive line coach before joining the Ducks. Even former UO coach Mark Helfrich seems like a more viable candidate for Alabama than Kelly.  

Still, the immediate hot rumor is that Kelly could become a candidate in Tuscaloosa. 

But that makes about as much sense as Kelly returning to Oregon as OC. Here are the reasons why:

  • Kelly has made it clear he wants to stay in the NFL. To do so, he must stay in the NFL, even if it's as an assistant or a consultant for his good pal, Bill Belichik at New England. Coaching at Alabama would do nothing to improve Kelly's chances of remaining in the league. He must reinvent himself as an NFL coach. He can't do that in college. 
  • Kelly runs what was a revolutionary and up-tempo offense that made Oregon a national power. Although Kelly didn't win big in the NFL, his offenses were typically quite productive both in Philadelphia and San Francisco despite having limitations at quarterback. But his style wouldn't play well with Alabama's defensive-minded philosophies.In the past, Saban has complained about the impact no-huddle offenses have had on college football, particularly his defenses, which dominate conventional offenses but have struggled against no-huddle teams with dynamic quarterbacks (Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, Deshaun Watson).  The last thing Saban wants is to see his defense on the field for 35 minutes while Kelly is calling a play every 15 seconds.  This reason also makes Helfrich appear to be an unlikely candidate, although he does have a pro-style background he could lean on. 
  • If Kelly wants to return to college he would do so as a head coach. If nothing materializes in the NFL, Kelly would become a hot head coaching in the college ranks when jobs come open next season. He could use coaching a year at Alabama as a springboard to a college head coaching job. But, again, he wants to remain in the NFL and he wouldn't need a boost of any kind to land a big time job in college. So, coaching at Alabama for one season doesn't help him at all. 
  • Speaking of being one-and-done, why would Saban want Kelly as a rent-a-coach for a year? It wouldn't benefit Saban to have Kelly waltz in, reinvent the offense and then leave after one season. Again, Cristobal would be a better choice than Kelly would be for one year. 
  • Kelly could possibly adapt his offensive style, but why would he want to do that for a season? Plus, for all we know Kelly would be an average coordinator of a conventional offense. His calling card is a spread, up-tempo offense, not pro-style attacks. 
  • Could you imagine this clash of egos? Think Godzilla vs. King Kong. Saban is a bully. He intimidated and verbally abused Lane Kiffin to the point where he left Alabama to take the head job at Florida Atlantic. Nobody leaves Alabama for Florida Atlantic. But Kiffin did. Saban couldn't bully Kelly like that. Kelly wouldn't take it. And Saban likely wouldn't want someone that strong working under him, potentially undermining his authority, and that works both ways. Kelly taking orders from Saban on how to run the offense probably wouldn't go over very well. I don't care how good of pals they are. 

To be fair here, maybe this is all too negative. Maybe Saban wants to get some of that spread attack philosophy into his system to see how it meshes with his defense. Maybe their friendship would derail any potential clashes. Maybe, just maybe, it would be a match made in heaven.

Or, maybe math doesn't lies and this coaching equation is a non-starter. 


I'm betting on the latter.