Is Chip Kelly Really on the Hot Seat?


Since yesterday, there’s been a lot of public response to Dennis Dodd’s “Hot Seat Ratings” for all the head coaches for the upcoming season. Oregon’s Chip Kelly is one of 30 coaches that are either beginning to feel the pressure or must win this year to survive.

Dodd, CBS Sports’ college football columnist, marked Kelly with a 3.0 rating. That fits in his “3.0-3.5” class, which means they are “on the bubble, feeling pressure.” He joins 19 other coaches in that group, including Colorado’s Jon Embree, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, California’s Jeff Tedford, Minnesota’s Jerry Kill, and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney.

The other coaches in the category are pretty easy to see, including the Beavers’ two straight losing seasons going into this year, Kill openly criticizing his players along with having health problems, and Swinney finally cooling his hot seat a bit by taking the Tigers to a BCS game, then losing 70-33 against West Virginia. But according to Dodd’s list, Kelly is the only coach in the group to go from “0.0” last season to “3.0” this season.

Two easy probabilities on the jump were the potential recruiting violations exposed by Willie Lyles that happened last summer and Kelly flirting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ job until ultimately saying no.

However, you cannot discount what Kelly has done for the program. He is 34-6 in his three years as head coach; all seasons finished with a conference championship and only has two conference losses combined. Even going just 1-2 in the BCS bowl games, that’s better recent success than anyone even with the “2.0-2.5” category.

There’s only one list that Kelly is on – the “NFL head coach in waiting.” His recent situation with the Bucs shows that he is, at the very least, interested in an opportunity to coach at the next level. It’s almost a catch-22 with the program. The only thing left for him to do is get back to the BCS National Championship and get the win.

Even then, winning a fourth consecutive conference title and a solid offer from an NFL team in need could be what’s needed to bolt and take the second opportunity.

Other reactions to Kelly being on the hot seat:

"Three consecutive Pac-12 titles and a Rose Bowl win provide Kelly plenty of security, whatever the NCAA does."

– Ted Miller, ESPN / Pac-12 coaches hot seat ratings

"Kelly is not getting fired anytime soon, but he could start looking at the NFL again. It’s hard not to think Kelly would try to expand his horizons if he ends up winning a fourth Pac-12 championship."

– Avinash Kunnath, Pacific Takes / Pac-12 Football Coach Hot Seat Rankings, Where Everyone Is Pretty Safe

"Even if he flirted with an NFL job, he still doesn’t seem like anything higher than a 1.0. Kelly also landed more coveted recruits this winter than the Oregon program ever has. Beating USC for local kid De’Anthony Thomas a year ago was huge. As was beating everyone for California lineman Arik Armstead. On top of that, the heat from the NCAA recruiting investigation also seems like it has cooled."

– Bruce Feldman, CBS Sports / Top 10 list: About those Hot Seat Rankings . . 

"Oregon’s Chip Kelly is an interesting case. He would seem like a solid lock as the Ducks coach for as long as he wants to remain in Eugene. But his questionable recruiting tactics open him up to criticism from within."

– Tom Perry, The Crystal Ball Within / Coaches on the Hot Seat: These guys have nothing to worry about

Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo, follow the site on Facebook and Twitter. Read his other work on the lacrosse blog, Watson Talk.