Cal Football should hire Chip Kelly

Written by: Kyle Andrews – Staff Writing Intern (@KyleAndrews1994)

The California Bears have constantly been a team that has a lot of potential. However, that potential isn’t necessarily realized because of coaching and recruiting, but it could all change if they add a coach who is a master tactician and recruiter.

As I mentioned in a previous article, former San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly is available. His 46-7 record (.868 winning percentage) with the Oregon Ducks is great. He brought a winning culture to Oregon that wasn’t seen before (not that those cool uniforms didn’t help).

This move makes just as much sense for Kelly as it does for Cal. Kelly never could seem to hold down a coaching position in the NFL, with 28–34 record (.452). Players in the NFL are different than players in college. They will not just listen to any coach because many of their jobs are more secure than their coach’s, but college players would be more willing to listen.

Kelly would have more institutional control over college kids that don’t make any money. Not to say that it’s fair, but it’s fact. He also is known to be a little tough on his players. In some circles, many believe that adversity makes players better. His hire would definitely make the players work themselves as hard as possible.

The California athletic program doesn’t have much money right now. To be honest, it’s an understatement.  Cal’s program is $22 million in the red according to Eben Novy-Wiliams of Bloomberg. They also owe recently fired head coach Sonny Dykes $6 million. However, with the Philadelphia and San Francisco still paying off some of Kelly’s old contract, Cal could possibly pay him less than market value for at least 3 years.

The biggest factor in hiring Kelly would be the money. He is still owed a great deal of cash by the Philadelphia Eagles and the 49ers in the NFL, which brings up an interesting point made by Tim Kawakami of The Mercury News:

Kelly is still owed $18M (about $15M from the 49ers, about $3M from the Eagles) from his previous two jobs, which greatly reduces what his next employer would have to pay him to keep him at a market-level salary.

Cal–or any college–could theoretically offer Kelly a minimum salary (say, in the $500k range) and let the rest of any deal be paid by the 49ers and Eagles.

For instance, Cal could give Kelly four years, $24M, and scale the deal so the school would only be on the hook for three years of minimum salary and then one extra year (a total of about $7.5M), with the 49ers and the Eagles paying the rest.

One must remember, Dykes was fired because it was perceived that he didn’t want to stay at Cal. It seemed to be a stepping stone coaching job, that could possibly propel him to coaching at Baylor or maybe another major football school in the future.

“We want somebody who is committed to the university long-term; someone who really wants to be at Cal,” athletic director Mike Williams said.

Maybe Kelly wouldn’t want to stay with the school forever, but he offers the opportunity of building a culture. Currently, Cal has Jake Spavital as their head coach. He is only 31 years old and he could learn under Kelly. Kelly may not be in Berkeley forever, but his aura could rub off on the Golden Bears.


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