With Bellotti a step away, Kelly looks to put his stamp on Oregon
When a well-wisher tried to congratulate him on Tuesday,
"Happy St. Patrick's Day!" exclaimed the new top Duck, who, it turned out, was making up for lost time. He'd forgotten it was St. Paddy's Day until a post-lunch staff meeting. "I saw it in my day planner," he said. "It's not like [defensive coordinator]
While he wasn't sporting green on Tuesday, Kelly will soon be taking home a lot more of it. Four days prior -- and a year earlier than most people expected --
A junkie for offensive football, Kelly loved nothing more than a road trip -- "research and development," he called it -- to talk to other coaches about what was working for them. Boston College, Clemson, the Carolinas -- UNC and N.C. State -- Georgia Tech, Florida State, Wake Forest, he hit up them all. "Everybody was always really receptive," he told me, "because no one was ever playing New Hampshire."
He was especially intrigued by overachieving offenses -- coaches doing more with less, "schools having more success than they were supposed to be having," he said.
Kelly will be the first to tell you that description no longer applies at Oregon. That is the principle legacy Bellotti left, and he set a generous table for his heir. It's easy to take for granted what Oregon football is today: a post-season fixture -- 12 bowls in the last 14 years -- with space-age facilities and a legacy of great quarterback play. But those parts are less then the sum of Bellotti's signal accomplishment.
Following the '04 season Bellotti brought in fellow spread-head
"I've just spent five days with seven thousand coaches," Bellotti later recalled, "and the day I'm leaving, Gary said, 'By the way, I'm probably going to take this job."
Before he bailed, Crowton recommended Kelly, who seemed a reach -- New Hampshire? -- until he unlocked the potential of a spindly playmaking quarterback named
With Kelly transforming another rough diamond quarterback into a polished, dangerous weapon -- this time sophomore juco transfer
He didn't have long to wait. After wavering last week, Bellotti finally pulled the trigger on Friday the 13th, resolving to begin the next phase of his career.
Now, Kelly will attempt not only to sustain Bellotti's success, but to build on it. It's up to him to prove he's more than just some mad scientist with a head full of X's and O's. He's already known as a tireless, effective and unapologetically ambitious recruiter. More than ever, the Ducks are willing to go after the best players in the country. Oregon made
"I must not have done a good enough job educating him," Kelly said, "on how productive our backs are. Our offense produced
The Granite State native possesses a slight edge that Oregonians tend to attribute to his roots "back east." Asked to cite the main differences between himself and Bellotti, he says: "I talk a lot faster."
Where Bellotti acted as a CEO, Kelly will be more hands-on. "I'm still going to be really involved in what we're doing offensively," he said. "I got the job because of my offensive background, so I'm not just gonna sit back and let someone else run the offense."
That's good news for Ducks fans, who have become accustomed to leading the Pac-10 in scoring. They'd love to see the balance of power in the Pac-10 shift back to the Northwest, where it resided in the early part of the decade before
Speaking of 'SC, the Trojans must break in a new quarterback next season, and won't be as smothering on defense. But Kelly's not making any predictions.
"No bulletin board material here," he said, laughing. "All I know is, we're extremely focused on our opener against Boise State."
So focused, in fact, that he forgot St. Patrick's Day.