The Oregon football program is beginning life without Chip Kelly, who was formally introduced Thursday as coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Ducks are going with the Next Man In philosophy Kelly always preached when replacing key players. He had barely boarded a flight for Philadelphia when a job posting for Head Football Coach appeared on the universitys website.
Were here moving forward. Were not going to worry about what happened. He made a decision that was best for him, and we wish him well, Athletic Director Rob Mullens said. Hes been great for Oregon football, and were moving on.
Mullens set no timeline for replacing Kelly, except to say the Ducks will move as fast as we can much like the teams warp-speed offense under Kelly.
We had already done a lot of groundwork, we had already started the process, knowing that Chip was going to be talking to the Eagles, Bills and Browns. We had geared up our process. We had obviously shut it down, but its easy to click right back on, Mullens said.
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is still considered a frontrunner for the position, according to media reports. But under Oregon state law, the school must also interview at least one qualified minority candidate for the job.
Mullens acknowledged there are internal candidates, but there was no leader in the clubhouse. ... We will be interviewing multiple candidates.
Boise State coach Chris Petersens name is constantly linked to the Oregon program. He was the Ducks wide receivers coach from 1995 to 2000, immediately before he joined the Broncos staff.
Petersen was out of town recruiting Thursday, according to Boise State. He must provide the university with at least 24 hours notice if he intends to speak to another school about a job.
Mullens said he wants a coach who understands the Oregon culture.
It is unique here and not only within our football program but within our community. We want someone who has proven excellence, whos been around proven programs, who knows what it takes because the expectations for this program have shifted, he said. We want to compete for Pac-12 championships and we want to be in BCS bowls. So we want someone that understands what that takes.
Timing is an issue National Signing Day is Feb. 6.
Were not going to be driven by a timeline, Mullens said. Were going to be thorough and find the right guy for Oregon football.
The timing is less than ideal, no doubt. Were in a critical period. Our coaches are on the road, and theyll remain on the road But were not going to sacrifice the future of this program (to rush the process).
Oregons new coach will undoubtedly face possible fallout from an NCAA investigation into the schools 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 connection with a player who committed to Oregon.
Oregon had requested a summary disposition in the case and presented a report to the NCAA infractions committee outlining violations the school believed occurred and appropriate sanctions. But last month Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is headed toward a hearing with the committee because the two sides couldnt reach an agreement.
The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations. The hearing could come as early as this spring.
But on the field, the Ducks appear sound. The team will return two of its most dynamic players next season: redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota and speedy sophomore running back DeAnthony Thomas, who ran for a 94-yard touchdown on the opening kickoff of the 35-17 Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State.