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Everybody wants to hire Chip Kelly. Here’s why Florida fans go above and beyond

It’s peak RUMOR SEASON in Gainesville, and there’s a somewhat unique reason for it: Gators are obsessed with winning via high-scoring offense.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - Oregon v Kansas State Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Entering Monday, Chip Kelly was entrenched as a name to know in Florida’s coaching search, and there were shreds of news linking him to the job. Those were mostly limited to heavy conjecture on social media.

Monday was when multiple outlets reported he was a candidate being vetted by Florida admins. But there hasn’t been much of anything in the way of public-facing hard news, outside of very busy internet comment sections.

On Tuesday, Florida social media went wild.

The chase on Tuesday had it all, including a selfie by AD Scott Stricklin to either throw people off the scent or just have fun with the process.

Rumors had been swirling on social media that Stricklin was headed to meet former Oregon head coach and current ESPN analyst Chip Kelly on Tuesday.

Fans even identified a plane that was scheduled to travel from Gainesville to Windsor Locks, Connecticut on FlightAware.com. Windsor Locks is the location of the airport frequently used by people traveling to ESPN headquarters.

Of course, it’s unclear if Kelly was even at ESPN’s campus on Tuesday. Until he shared his selfie, it was also unclear where Stricklin was this afternoon.

Inherent to this is also the fallacy of using FlightAware for coaching rumor sleuthing.

You might wonder why Gators are going this crazy over a coach who just failed twice in the NFL.

The longtime college offense innovator fits not just what the program wants, but what it needs.

Florida’s fan base is intoxicated by offense, almost to a fault. To blame are people like Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Tebow, and Urban Meyer. When Florida has won, it has been with an offensive identity. Ask Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain what happens when you lose on top of doing so in as ugly a way possible.

Spurrier piloted the program to an Orange Bowl berth in 1966 as a quarterback. He won the Heisman and led the team to a 9-2 record (the second time in the program’s history the Gators had won that many games). There wasn’t much more success until the violation-ravaged late 1980s gave way to Spurrier’s return in 1990. From there, Florida torched scoreboards en route to one national title and six SEC titles. He was a vanguard of the forward pass in the SEC.

When Urban Meyer came to town in 2005, he brought his own ingenuity in the form of a modern spread. Behind a motivational-speaking, battering-ram QB, the Gators again asserted national prominence, with offense as the star. Florida won two more championships with Tebow, one with him starting.

Defenders Wilber Marshall and Jack Youngblood are in the school’s ring of honor, but don’t resonate like the signal callers, three of whom have statues outside of Florida’s stadium.

Another reason these rumors can really take off: Kelly has no need to deny them.

Scott Frost, Dan Mullen, and basically everyone else the Gators would want to target currently have teams to coach.

Most of other big jobs haven’t opened yet. Florida can get a jump on the competition, and with Kelly, wouldn’t have to worry about clearing hoops. It can just call Kelly up and speak freely. It lessens the number of cooks in the kitchen because there’s not another school to deal with, just Kelly and his representation.

Our Florida blog, Alligator Army, explains what Kelly being hired would mean to the Florida program from a perception standpoint.

Kelly is the No. 1 candidate of frustrated Florida fans, 2010-present and also Alligator Army’s all-time Florida wide receivers coach. His Oregon offenses revolutionized college football in a way very reminiscent of Spurrier’s offenses revolutionizing the SEC, and his Ducks were cool and arrogant in ways that harkened back to Spurrier’s halcyon days, too. There are many Florida fans who see Chip Kelly as a squatter Steve Spurrier with fewer visor tosses

The Ducks were competent on defense, even bordering on excellent the year they went to the national title game in 2010. While that scoring defense ranked 12th nationally and the points-per-play defense ranked 11th, the time of possession was 106th, thanks to an offense that ran at breakneck speed.

Kelly was seen as an offensive savant at Oregon, and that reputation did suffer a few dings in the NFL. But should he end up being Florida’s head coach, he more than wins the press conference, and he’s a name that makes rival fans jealous.

This is not an up-and-coming assistant or a head coach who’s done a good job at the Group of 5 level. This is the man who came within a field goal of winning a national championship.

That hope of Florida fans is is what fuels a day like Tuesday.