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Rick Stroud, Greg Auman and Matt Baker

Kelly tells Bucs his 'heart is with college football,' stays at Oregon



Oregon coach Chip Kelly told the Tampa Bay Buccaneers early Monday morning 'his heart is with college football,' and he is remaining with the Ducks.

"His heart is with college football and Oregon and he's no longer being considered,'' Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said Monday.

Kelly and the Bucs were in the process of finalizing a deal late Sunday with the goal of him becoming Tampa Bay's head coach by today or Tuesday.

But negotiations with college coaches are always tricky, and with national signing day less than two weeks away, Kelly quickly ended talks once he decided to remain at Oregon where he has led the Ducks to three straight BCS games.

The situation is strikingly familiar to the Bucs coaching search in 1996 when then Florida coach Steve Spurrier came close to taking the job before deciding to remain with the Gators. The Bucs wound up hiring Tony Dungy, whose son, Eric, is now a receiver for Kelly at Oregon.

Kelly secretly met last week with Dominik and several members of the Glazer family which owns the Bucs. Sunday night, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed a report by KGW in Portland, Oregon, that Kelly was attempting to finalize an agreement. According to multiple reports, Kelly had cancelled a recruiting trip to Sacremento. 

Dominik postponed his plans to travel to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Monday and the Bucs were hopeful their thorough search for a new head coach was coming to a close with Kelly.

But once news broke of talks late Sunday, and with national signing day looming Feb. 1, Kelly reversed course and told the Bucs he was remaining at Oregon.

Financial terms were not the issue in Kelly's decision to remain at Oregon. Kelly signed a six-year extension with the Ducks in 2010 worth $20.5-million, an average of just over $3.4-million per season, making him the PAC-10's second highest-paid coach behind USC's Lane Kiffin

The Bucs will resume their head coaching search immediately and have no shortage of candidates. Since firing Raheem Morris Jan. 2, Dominik and the Glazers have interviewed at least eight known candidates, a list that includes Kelly, former Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, former Vikings coach Brad Childress and former Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer. Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips cancelled an interview with Tampa Bay prior to an AFC Divisional playoff game against Baltimore. The Bucs also interviewed Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, quarterbacks coach Jerry Clements and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Jeff Chudzinski.

Philbin had a second interview scheduled with the Bucs before he was hired Friday as the Miami Dolphins' head coach.

After Kelly's change of heart, the Bucs could choose from that list of candidates and call them back for a second interview or continue their search. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell may also be on the Bucs' radar and teams can interview coaches from the the staffs of Super Bowl teams this week. 




[Last modified: Monday, January 23, 2012 8:00am]


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