Kelly: Spurning Tampa job in '12 wasn't difficult

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Kelly: Spurning Tampa job in '12 wasn't difficult

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October 9, 2013, 1:30 pm
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If Chip Kelly had wanted, it could have been him coaching the Bucs last year instead of current head man Greg Schiano. (AP)

Before he took center stage of a highly publicized recruiting war between the Eagles and Giants, Chip Kelly’s first NFL job offer came from Tampa Bay.

The Buccaneers, who welcome the Eagles to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, were the first to show major interest in the former Oregon head coach.

Bucs team brass flew out to meet him on a recruiting trip in late January 2012 and were reportedly close to reaching a deal, but Kelly eventually spurned the offer.

“I didn’t want to leave the staff at Oregon at that time,” Kelly, the Eagles’ head coach, said Wednesday before practice. “And I didn’t want to leave the players at Oregon at that time.”

Tampa Bay, which had fired Raheem Morris after going 4-12 in Morris’ third season, continued its search at the college level, hiring Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano, who went 7-9 in his first season.

Kelly didn’t have to wait long for his next NFL offer. He interviewed with the Browns and Eagles in Phoenix in January, a few days after the Ducks smashed Kansas State, 35-17, in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Browns never reached a deal with Kelly and eventually hired Rob Chudzinski. The Eagles were also spurned by Kelly, who again went back to Oregon, and took aim at then-Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley until Kelly changed his mind and reopened discussions with the Eagles.

Kelly is 2-3 in his first season as Eagles coach while Schiano and Tampa are still seeking their first win of the 2013 season.

Kelly had coached the Ducks to a 12-2 season culminating in a 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl in 2012 when a Bucs contingent led by owner Malcolm Glazer and his two brothers along with general manager Mark Dominik secretly met with him about the opening.

“They met me when I was on the road recruiting,” Kelly said. “I was impressed with the three Glazer brothers and I was impressed with Mark Dominik. But it was more a decision to stay at Oregon at the time then it was to go anywhere in the NFL.”

Kelly was asked if he had worried about passing on an NFL job, not knowing if another would come.

“I didn’t have NFL aspirations,” he said. “They contacted me. I said I’d go to an interview as long as it didn’t affect my recruiting. It was the first time I’d ever been contacted by an NFL team. I said as long as it’s not going to affect where I am, and they were gracious enough to work it into my schedule where it didn’t affect the recruiting schedule. And I listened is what happened.”

Although an ESPN report from that month said the Bucs and Kelly were deep in the contract process before Kelly opted to return to Oregon, Kelly said the decision to decline the offer wasn’t complex.

“I don’t look at decisions as tough. I don’t look at decisions as difficult,” he said. “You get all the information necessary and you make the decision and move forward. We had an outstanding year staying at Oregon. Those memories we had there, those players I had an opportunity to coach, that staff I was with, I love those guys. I still love those guys. I think it was a good decision for me at that point in time.”

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