On Wednesday afternoon, then-University of Oregon coach Chip Kelley was named head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. When he accepted the job, he flew from Eugene, Ore. to Philadelphia, with Eagles fans tracking his plane.
As it turns out, that was the second very long flight Kelly had taken in the span of 24 hours, because little more than 12 hours before Kelly accepted the Eagles head coaching position, he was reportedly in Texas, feverishly recruiting one of the top running backs in the Class of 2013.
According to the Dallas Morning News, Kelly spent Tuesday in DeSoto, Texas, recruiting star running back Dontre Wilson. The high school superstar was first offered a scholarship to Oregon in March 2012 and accepted on the spot, but there were concerns that Kelly’s flirtation with NFL coaching openings could have left the senior with some lingering doubts.
On Tuesday night, Kelly assuaged those concerns, assuring both Wilson and his father, Don Wilson, that the Ducks had already designed schemes to work the younger Wilson into the Oregon offense as a freshman. Kelly left with everyone feeling more assured.
Then he left Oregon for good, and left Wilson in a lurch.
Naturally, Kelly isn’t the first college coach to bolt suddenly for another job. Then Texas Tech-coach Tommy Tuberville allegedly left during a dinner with recruits in December to accept the head coaching position at Cincinnati.
Still, if Kelly’s pitch to Dontre Wilson doesn’t reach Tuberville levels of tactlessness, it’s pretty close. Surely Kelly realized at that point that he was seriously considering the Eagles’ offer. Based on the timeline of his acceptance of the position and his travel to Philadelphia, his agent would have needed to be negotiating Kelly’s contract either while he was still in Texas or in flight back to the Pacific Northwest.
In either circumstance, it’s hard to understand why Kelly would have taken the trip to Texas. If he was indeed seriously considering the Eagles job, why not put the Texas trip off for a day or two until he had reaffirmed his commitment to Oregon once and for all … or left the program to offensive coordinator and presumed successor Mark Helfrich? Such a move surely would have resonated better with the running back, regardless of Kelly’s eventual decision.
Instead, one of Oregon’s key recruits for 2013 has completely re-opened his commitment, forcing Dontre Wilson to scramble to assess all of his options. He has already lined up a visit to Columbus to speak with Ohio State coaches next week.
“We’re not in a hurry,” Don Wilson told the Morning News. “We made a promise to Chip that Dontre wouldn’t take any more visits once he committed. But that was to Chip. Now that he’s gone, that promise is kind of null and void.”