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Chip Kelly Shocks College Football, Heads Back to the Big Ten as Ohio State’s New OC

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The Ohio State Buckeyes made a major coaching move on Friday, hiring former UCLA head coach Chip Kelly as their new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Kelly replaces Bill O’Brien, who left Ohio State after just over a month on the job to become the new head coach at Boston College.

This is a homecoming of sorts for Kelly, who has longtime ties to Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. The two coaches are both from New Hampshire and have known each other for decades. Day played college football for Kelly at New Hampshire and later coached under him with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. Their friendship and coaching chemistry were big factors in Ohio State pursuing Kelly for the offensive coordinator job.

Kelly signed a three-year contract with Ohio State, with financial terms undisclosed. He is taking a significant pay cut from his UCLA salary, where he made nearly $6 million per year as head coach. Ohio State will also owe UCLA a $1.5 million buyout to release Kelly from his contract. However, Kelly prioritized returning to college coaching over the money.

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The 59-year-old Kelly spent the past six seasons as UCLA’s head coach, compiling a 35-34 overall record. After struggling early on, Kelly led the Bruins to winning seasons and bowl appearances in each of the last three years. But he missed the hands-on coaching aspect of being a coordinator and position coach. Kelly coached UCLA’s quarterbacks leading up to their bowl game this year, his first time coaching a position in over a decade. That experience reignited his passion for being more involved with players on a daily basis.

Known for his innovative offensive philosophies, Kelly is considered one of the top playcallers in football. He rose to prominence as the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire and Oregon, where his high-powered spread offenses put up video game-like numbers. Kelly brought his aggressive tempo and creative schemes to the NFL as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers. While his offenses evolved to be more balanced in the pros, Kelly remained the primary playcaller along the way.

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Now Kelly will take over playcalling duties for an Ohio State offense loaded with talent. He inherits Heisman finalist quarterback C.J. Stroud, who could return for another season alongside elite running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams. The Buckeyes also return top receivers Emeka Egbuka, Marvin Harrison Jr., and Julian Fleming. With Kelly designing plays for these explosive skill players, Ohio State is positioned to have one of the most prolific offenses in college football.

Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day is handing over playcalling responsibilities to Kelly in order to better oversee the entire program. This parallels the recent moves by Alabama’s Nick Saban and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney to step back from playcalling. Day recognized the value Kelly brings from his unique experiences as a college coordinator, head coach, and NFL head coach. Those diverse perspectives will enable Kelly to collaborate with Day on game plans while offering a complementary voice on coaching decisions.

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The timing of Kelly’s arrival works out well, with Ohio State starting spring practices on March 5th. That will give Kelly plenty of time to evaluate personnel and install his offense before the season kicks off. The Buckeyes are eying a return to the College Football Playoff after losing to Georgia in the semifinals this past season. With Kelly orchestrating the offense and Day taking a CEO-style approach, Ohio State believes it now has the staff to get over the hump and compete for a national championship.

Kelly’s return to the college ranks sends shockwaves through the coaching carousel. He is the fourth sitting head coach to accept an assistant job this offseason, joining Jeff Hafley (Packers), Mo Linguist (Alabama), and Kane Wommack (Alabama). For Ohio State, pulling Kelly away from UCLA is a major coup. They are getting a proven playcaller with head coaching experience, both in college and the NFL. His innovative schemes and coaching pedigree should reinvigorate the Buckeye offense as they set their sights on a national title run in 2023.

Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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