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After crazy weekend, business as usual for Oregon

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After crazy weekend, business as usual for Oregon

After a weekend rife with rumors and speculation, Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks are right back where they started.

Oregon's enigmatic head coach flirted with a trio of NFL teams over three days before deciding late Sunday to stay with the No. 5 Ducks.

On Monday it was back to business. Kelly was at a coaches' convention in Tennessee. Oregon did not formally announce Kelly's decision - for the school his status hadn't changed, he's still the head coach - but athletic director Rob Mullens told reporters he was obviously ``ecstatic'' about it.

It was an anticlimactic end to the whirlwind that started soon after Oregon's 35-17 Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State on Thursday night.

Kelly was peppered with questions about whether he would entertain NFL offers in the days leading up to the bowl game and immediately after it. He told reporters: ``I'll listen and we'll see.''

On Friday, he met with the Cleveland Browns. The interview went on for some seven hours, and by the end of the night, sources close to the team were telling the media that Kelly was ``close'' to signing a deal.

But the next day, Kelly went ahead and met for a reported nine hours with the Philadelphia Eagles about their open coaching position. Somewhere in the midst of all that, he also spoke to the Buffalo Bills.

The roller coaster even took a comical turn when musician Mat Kearney released a song entitled ``Chip Don't Go,'' on YouTube. Kearney, a Eugene native, joked in the song: ``They don't have half the heart or the jerseys.''

By midday Sunday, The Associated Press learned that the Browns had started looking elsewhere because they weren't sure Kelly's heart was in the NFL.

That night, sources connected to Oregon and the Philadelphia Eagles confirmed an ESPN report that Kelly would remain in Eugene.

Mullens said renegotiation of Kelly's contract with the Ducks was not discussed, and he did not know the details of his coach's decision-making process. Mullens did admit to lobbying for Oregon.

``I don't want to speculate on anything, other than to say I think we have something special here. It's a great place. We have a very passionate fan base. We have a unique culture,'' Mullens said. ``I think it's one of the best jobs in all of football. Not just college football, I think it's one of the best jobs in football. I think that weighs heavily.''

Mullens said he was prepared to open a nationwide search for new coach had Kelly decided to leave.

Kelly has not commented publicly on the matter: Mullens explained he was focused on obligations at the convention and then would turn his attention to recruiting.

Kelly is 46-7 in four years as head coach at Oregon. The Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games - including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago - and have 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, where he started devising the innovative hurry-up offense the Ducks are known for today.

Oregon finished last season 12-1. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford on Nov. 17.

The team will return two of its most dynamic players next season: redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota, and speedy sophomore running back De'Anthony Thomas, who ran for a 94-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff of the Fiesta Bowl.

But there may also be some challenges: Oregon still faces possible NCAA sanctions based on its use of recruiting services.

Reports 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.

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 Yahoo Sports reported that the two sides could not reach an agreement and now the matter is headed for a hearing, as early as this spring.

And there's certainly no evidence Kelly has ruled out a future in the NFL.

It's hard to argue that his stock has fallen in any way because of the failed courtship by four teams, including his talks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers early last year. Kelly obviously has a proven offensive mindset.

That said, there was already speculation that he might be waiting for his ``dream'' job with the New England Patriots, a seat currently held by Bill Belichick.

Only Kelly knows, and he's not saying.

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Tim Connelly won’t take top Wizards job, to stay in Denver

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Tim Connelly won’t take top Wizards job, to stay in Denver

There won’t be a Tim Connelly reunion with the Washington Wizards after all.

Connelly passed on the opportunity to become the Wizards President of Basketball Operations, and instead will remain in the same capacity with the Denver Nuggets, a source confirms to NBC Sports Washington. ESPN first reported on Connelly's decision.

Washington received permission to meet with Connelly late Thursday evening. He left the NBA Combine in Chicago and flew to Washington Friday for a discussion with Leonsis, a source told NBC Sports Washington. On Friday, Connelly reportedly received the offer to fill the front office vacancy created by the firing of Ernie Grunfeld on April 2.

While the interest in the Wizards was genuine from the Baltimore native, Catholic University alum and former member of Washington's front office, Connelly could not leave the "stable" situation with significant promise in Denver, a source told NBC Sports Washington.  

Connelly, 41, was named Denver’s general manager in 2013. The Nuggets won 54 games and finished the 2018-19 regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. The roster, headlined by All-NBA center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray, is the second-youngest in the NBA. "Tough to give that up," the source said. "Too much to risk."

The Wizards are coming off a polar opposite campaign that ended with a 32-50 record. Significant uncertainty exists going forward with five-time All-Star John Wall expected to miss a large chunk of the 2019-20 season as his four-year, $170 million supermax contract extension kicks in.

Leonsis began a deliberative search process for a new President of Basketball Operations after dismissing Grunfeld, who held the position for 16 years.  While other candidates were interviewed during the process, including interim GM Tommy Sheppard, Connelly’s name was linked to the opening almost from the start.

Connelly considered Leonsis' handling of the discussions first class, according to a source.

Sheppard, former Hawks GM Danny Ferry and Thunder assistant GM Troy Weaver are the other known primary candidates.

In April, NBC Sports Washington first reported Connelly considered the Wizards his “dream job,” according to sources. The Catholic University alum began his NBA career as an intern with Washington in 1996 before holding various full-time front office positions under Grunfeld. He left for New Orleans in 2010.

The Wizards face significant challenges before re-entering contention in the Eastern Conference. With Wall injured, two-time All-Star Bradley Beal is the only healthy returning starter. 2018 first round pick Troy Brown Jr. is the only other valued long-term asset beyond the ninth overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft,

More than half of last season’s roster is entering some form of free agency. Washington could have limited salary cap space depending on which players return.

The situation requires the kind of roster-shaping creativity Connelly demonstrated in Denver. The Wizards now must look elsewhere for their new front office leader.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Roster is set heading into start of OTAs

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Roster is set heading into start of OTAs

Kick off your Monday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including the full 90-man roster heading into the beginning of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. Ravens OTAs begin Monday.

2. With the return of Pernell McPhee and the addition of Shane Ray, it's clear that the Ravens are searching for the right pass rushers for their defense. The two veterans join draft pick Jaylon Ferguson in the quest to create a dynamic defense.

3. Marquise Brown is expected to miss OTAs due to continued rehab on his foot from Lisfranc surgery. However, Brown is expected to be ready by the start of training camp in August.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Rotoworld and Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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