Oregon is making a push to bring back Chip Kelly as the Ducks’ head football coach, sources told ESPN on Thursday.
Kelly took Oregon to the BCS national championship game in 2010 and has strong support in Eugene. Kelly is in his fourth season as UCLA‘s coach and entering what would be the final year of the five-year, $23.3 million contract he signed in November 2017.
Kelly, whose Bruins are 8-4, would owe a $9 million buyout if he left for another job before Jan. 15, 2022. UCLA will face North Carolina State on Dec. 28 in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. The Bruins had suffered through three straight losing seasons under Kelly before breaking through this season.
The Ducks are looking for a replacement for Mario Cristobal, who left for the Miami head-coaching job earlier this week. Cristobal owes Oregon a $9 million buyout.
Cal coach Justin Wilcox has interviewed for the Oregon job, a source told ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura. Other names mentioned in connection with the Ducks’ open position are Auburn‘s Bryan Harsin and BYU‘s Kalani Sitake.
The Oregonian was the first to report Thursday that Oregon had requested permission to speak with Kelly about the job.
Kelly, 58, was 46-7 in four seasons at Oregon (2009-12) and won 12 games each of his last three seasons, as the Ducks finished all three season in the top five nationally in the final AP poll. Kelly won Pac-12 championships in three of his four seasons in Eugene.
Both of Kelly’s stints in the NFL ended with his firing, first with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2015 after three seasons and then with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 after one season. Kelly spent the 2017 season as a studio analyst at ESPN.
When Kelly decided to get back into coaching in 2018, Florida made a strong push for him before he ultimately decided on UCLA.
Kelly received an 18-month show cause penalty from the NCAA after Oregon was placed on three years of probation stemming from violations that occurred during Kelly’s time at Oregon. The Ducks did not receive a postseason ban.