McMullen on the Eagles: Chip Kelly to Southern Cal?
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Mike Gill asked a great question on The Sports Bash Friday afternoon, "Is Chip Kelly to USC a legitimate possibility or lazy journalism?"
The answer is both.
USC, a perceived national championship contender, lost its second game of the season on Thursday to unranked Washington, fueling speculation that the school may be ready to move on from Steve Sarkisian, a coach who is not only losing but embarrassed the university by appearing to be drunk when he addressed school boosters at an event back in August.
SI.com reported that Southern Cal had a strong interest in luring Kelly before it hired Sarkisian and would again look to the Eagles coach if they decide to move on this time.
So where does the gossip end and reality begin?
(Listen to John McMullen discuss the Chip Kelly to USC rumors)
At this stage of the NFL season, Kelly and his camp aren't sending out any feelers to Southern California or anyone else in search of a soft landing spot so the speculation regarding things continuing to go south for the coach in Philadelphia increasing Kelly's interest in returning to the college ranks is definitely a Los Angeles-based story created by nothing more than guesswork and Kelly's reputation as a nomadic soul.
That said, USC is unquestionably one of the top gigs in all of college football and it's less than eight months since Kelly pulled his power play and threatened to walk away from One NovaCare Way if he was not given full control of the Eagles' football operations, something owner Jeffrey Lurie almost had to acquiesce to because he had changed the entire organization's culture in order to lure Kelly away from Oregon.
Ego is also involved and Chip certainly doesn't want to leave the City of Brotherly Love with his tail tucked between his legs, labeled a failure at the game's highest level.
By all accounts, despite all of his success at Alabama, the one thing that sticks in Nick Saban's craw is the fact he's been tagged with the loser label in Miami, a reality that some believe will eventually lure Saban back to the NFL at some point.
You can also rule out the college atmosphere when considering Kelly's mindset. Football 24-7 people like Kelly enjoy the business aspect of the professional ranks because you don't have to pay lip service to ancillary things that don't involve the game, something that needs to be done at even the largest of football factories like USC or Texas.
Other aspects of the pro game, however, are not considered positives by Kelly. He's struggled with the size of the media contingent that covers his team on a daily basis and two different sources claim he was recently coached by the corporate communications team of the Eagles of how to better handle the negativity surrounding his team stemming from it's disastrous 1-3 start.
For now Kelly is only zoned in on improving the Eagles and rescuing his rapidly-declining reputation as an offensive genius.
The only thing that would turn his attention backward is a disastrous season, as in three or four wins.
Programs like Southern Cal and Texas would certainly have an interest in a coach like Kelly and if they decide to move on from their current pilots, their due diligence would include the Eagles' mentor whether they want to admit it or not.
The flirting is not reciprocal, though ... at least not yet.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen