Just how close was Oregon's Chip Kelly from becoming the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday night? After confirming from a source in the athletic department that Kelly had accepted the job, The Register-Guard in Eugene was forced to literally stop the presses when he changed his mind:
Another indication: By midnight Pacific time, Oregon was already lining up its targets to replace Kelly, led by offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich and TCU head coach Gary Patterson. The short list also included the usual flights of fancy — Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy, respectively — and the obligatory nod to Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, who was an Oregon assistant for six years under Kelly's predecessor, Mike Bellotti, and may have strongly considered a return to Eugene before issuing the automatic rejection that's met every other suitor for Petersen's hand.
Fortunately for the Ducks, a last-second hunt with barely a week to go until new recruits sign letters of intent on Feb. 1 will no longer be necessary. But in case there was any doubt that Kelly was actually on his way out, let the record show: If The Register-Guard's source in the athletic department had waited a few more minutes to call in Kelly's change of heart, the Internet-deprived citizens of West-Central Oregon would have been in for one very depressing 24 hours.