By Chuck Schilken
11:56 AM EST, January 7, 2013
Chip Kelly came oh-so close to making the leap to the NFL but in the end decided to stay put as the highly successful coach of the Oregon Ducks.
Multiple sources are reporting that after lengthy interviews with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, as well as talking with the Buffalo Bills, Kelly has opted to stay with an Oregon team he has led to a 46-7 record, four straight BCS bowl games and three Pac-12 titles in four years as head coach.
Kelly's decision was first reported by ESPN on Sunday night. Earlier in the day it had been reported that Cleveland decided to pass on Kelly because of his indecision on whether to join the NFL ranks. A source told the Associated Press that the Browns thought they were close to a deal with Kelly two days earlier.
Last year, Kelly turned down an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, saying he had "unfinished business" with the Ducks.
No word yet on why he made the same decision this year, although it is widely believed Nike co-founder and Oregon mega-booster Phil Knight may have had something to do with it. After the Ducks beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl last week, Knight said he was one of the fans chanting "We want Chip!"
In making the decision, Kelly effectively chose to stay and deal with possible NCAA sanctions over recruiting violations rather than deal with the rebuilding of a struggling pro football team.
“It's a special place with special people. They accepted me six years ago when I was at New Hampshire. Not many people knew about me,” Kelly said of Oregon following the Fiesta Bowl. “Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.