TAMPA — Oregon coach Chip Kelly is known for his fast-paced offense, but his call for a reverse surprised the Bucs just before sunrise Monday.
After agreeing to most of the components of an agreement to coach Tampa Bay, Kelly had a change of heart and decided to remain with the Ducks.
The Chip-Flop, as it is being called in Oregon, did not halt the Bucs search for a head coach.
By Monday afternoon, former Green Bay Packers and Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman became the first candidate to be called for a second interview with the Bucs this week.
Sherman, 57, has an offensive background and is considered to be a candidate with the Miami Dolphins as an offensive coordinator under new coach Joe Philbin.
Sherman went 57-39 and won three NFL North titles in six seasons with the Packers. He was fired in 2005 after a 4-12 record, the Packers' first losing season since 1991.
He was 25-25 in four seasons at Texas A&M, with two bowl appearances, and helped transform quarterback Ryan Tannehill from receiver to quarterback. The Bucs hope to find a coach who can help quarterback Josh Freeman get back on track after he threw 16 touchdown passes and 22 interceptions this season.
General manager Mark Dominik remained in Tampa on Monday to contact candidates rather than attending the Senior Bowl workouts in Mobile, Ala.
The Bucs are scheduling second interviews and selecting finalists from a list that includes former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, former Vikings coach Brad Childress, former Browns, Chiefs, Redskins and Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski.
"We clearly are serious about finding the right coach," Dominik said in a text to the Tampa Bay Times.
The Bucs were hopeful Kelly would be that coach.
He had cancelled a recruiting trip to Sacramento, Calif., and Oregon officials reportedly believed he had agreed to a deal to jump to the NFL and coach the Bucs, less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 national signing day.
But around 5 a.m. Monday, he informed the Bucs he was staying at Oregon.
"His heart is with college football and Oregon and he's no longer being considered," Dominik said.
In three seasons under Kelly, the Ducks have reached three BCS games, losing to Auburn on a last-season field goal in the 2010 national championship game.
"I am flattered by the interest of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' organization," Kelly said in a statement. "I enjoyed meeting with the Glazer family and General Manager Mark Dominik but after numerous discussions, I concluded that I have some unfinished business to complete at the University of Oregon."
The situation is strikingly familiar to the Bucs coaching search in 1996 when then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier came close to taking the job but remained 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 Times confirmed a report by KGW in Portland, Ore., that Kelly was trying to finalize a deal.
Compensation was not a factor in Kelly's decision to remain in Oregon. He signed a six-year agreement with Oregon worth $20.5 million in 2010, 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.
MILLARD HIRED: The Titans hired Keith Millard, a co-defensive line coach with Tampa Bay last season, to coach their pass rush.
Rick Stroud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. View his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bucs.