Chip Kelly's probably going to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles again next year. Probably.
However, after engineering a massive roster overhaul that has the Eagles at 3-4, Kelly's still yet to prove he's the right fit for the NFL. His team still ranks No. 14 in the latest power rankings after having to play the unbeaten Carolina Panthers, but when Philly wins, it's been thanks to its defense, rather than the side of the ball that's Kelly's specialty.
If nothing else, his pro teams are nowhere near as entertaining as his Oregon teams were, and that's what matters most. And while only the fictional North Texas State has reached out to him so far, you can bet every college team with an open job or potentially open job daydreams of bringing Kelly back.
In any case, it's time for Chip to come home to college football. Maybe he doesn't get fired, and you've gotta be a weird guy to leave the NFL on purpose, but it's working out fine for that weird guy at Michigan.
Where should he land? It's time to rank some possibilities, with some open jobs and some potentially open jobs.
When the Hurricanes won their last national championship, pro-style offense was all the rage. Yes, Miami won that title by annihilating the very collegiate Nebraska, but pro concepts were invading the college game everywhere through the '90s and early-2000s.
That all changed with the advent of the spread offense, which came by way of high school football and has creeped into the NFL. But while the game has evolved toward high-powered offenses, Miami has stayed steadfastly pro-style and defensive in its coaching decisions. Larry Coker begat defensive coordinator Randy Shannon, who begat Temple coach and former defensive assistant Al Golden. And by insisting on pro offense, Miami would be stuck recruiting Florida State's and Florida's leftovers.
It's been 26 years since the Hurricanes hired an offensive-minded head coach. But the one Miami hired in 1989, Dennis Erickson, was the 1989 version of Kelly: unique offensive philosophy (the single-back system) built at an outpost of the West (Washington State) and best utilized with a decided speed advantage. With all the talent available in Miami, Erickson went 63-9. Chip can do that in Coral Gables. It might be enough to get Uncle Luke back in the booth.
Maybe the only place with more talent than South Florida: Southern California, where Kelly would inherit a roster that probably wouldn't mind sprinting from snap to snap. He's already shown he can recruit to the West Coast with little more than an outdated scouting report and a road map.
While Kelly might not want to take on a rebuild in his old conference, USC has more than enough money and history to compete with his old team year-in and year-out.
And despite the lack of a mobile quarterback on the Trojans roster, Kelly has had plenty of success with immobile signal-callers, like ... well, he can recruit a mobile quarterback.
3. Virginia Tech
Because there will surely be another Michael Vick at some point. Maybe.
Because Virginia Tech fans have had the same thing for 30 years, with diminishing returns over the last four.
Because this cannot be allowed to happen again:
4. Iowa State
When Kelly was at Oregon, he had everything he could want. An unlimited recruiting budget with nationwide reach thanks to Nike, unparalleled facilities, stylish uniforms and the reasonable expectations of a non-traditional power. Oregon was college football's nouveau riche, and it spent like Gatsby.
Kelly left that for the challenge of the NFL, but the NFL wasn't the biggest challenge available. No, the biggest challenge is the nation's toughest job, the barren northern outpost of a conference that barely recognizes anything north of Norman. A place with little tradition, talent base or style and a budget so squeezed that the basketball team sleeps on ballroom floors to save hotel money.
Ratchet the difficulty level up to Heisman, Chip. Beat Oklahoma with two rubber bands and a paper clip. Go to Ames.
5. South Carolina
Kelly's story could mirror that of former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. A brief NFL run that ends with a disappointing season, followed by a return to the college game.
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Wait, we're already doing this in October? Absolutely. College football teams are already firing their coaches, so it's time to get caught up.
It's already coach rumor season!
And Kelly, much like Spurrier, has showed he can turn less-than-spectacular quarterback recruits into stars. South Carolina is not going to consistently get top-notch talent, and the ceiling on Kelly might be slightly lower than he had at Oregon, but it would still be one of the nation's most intriguing coaches in the nation's most demanding conference. And the SEC could always use more touchdowns.
If the Big Ten is going to truly compete with the SEC top-to-bottom, it needs one more powerhouse. And if there's a man who can take a program affiliated with a shoe company and turn it into a force, it's Kelly. A rising Maryland could make the Big Ten East the nation's strongest division.
Also, College Park is close enough to Philadelphia that Kelly could commute with an Amtrak pass, which could make for fun "Chip Kelly is on my train" stories.
We know his staff can recruit the islands (after all, it's where Oregon got Marcus Mariota). We know any success would be met with adulation. We know Hawaii has long been a bastion for weird offenses, with June Jones taking the run-and-shoot to the Sugar Bowl. We know he'd probably save Hawaii football from its possible bankrupt fate.
What we don't know is what happens if Kelly takes a program that already has immense trouble scheduling non-conference home games and makes it legitimately dangerous to Power 5 teams. It could be that Hawaii simply can't play non-conference games anymore, because Power 5 opponents wouldn't want to incur the travel expense for a loss to a non-Power 5 program. The Mountain West might rescind its offer and jettison Hawaii football back into the ocean, where it can play BYU once a season and call that an entire schedule.
And if Hawaii football would be financially secure but for having an opponent, the irony would be so overwhelming that the whole system could collapse. Let anarchy reign, Chip. Aloha.