If I received a dollar for every time I have heard the saying, “yeah but he never won anything”, Id be writing this blog from a tropical place right now. Now granted, I have used the saying as well. But since Chip Kelly arrived in Philadelphia, I never realized how off base the cliché is.
Turn on the radio or read certain national publications and you will still see it written about Chip Kelly. It is no secret that I am an Eagles fan and that I am a Chip Kelly fan. However, the cliché couldn’t be more wrong.
In this society, when it comes to sports, whether its right or wrong its judged on championships. So saying the cliché technically you are right. However, its an easy out and its a shallow description.
Ill start with Chip Kelly as he is the man that changed my thinking on this topic. Chip was named head coach at Oregon in 2009. He led the Ducks to BCS games in each of his four seasons as head coach; 2 Rose Bowls, 1 Fiesta Bowl, and 1 National Championship game. He compiled an overall record at Oregon of 46-7 and a conference record of 33-3. Under Kelly, they won the Conference Championship in 3 of his 4 years.
Prior to Chip Kelly becoming head coach, Oregon compiled 8 total conference championships dating back to 1916. As mentioned above Kelly led them to 4 major bowl games in his 4 years, dating back to 1916 they appeared in 5 Rose Bowls and 1 Fiesta Bowl. Since Kelly left the program, Mark Helfrich is 24-4. Not bad for a guy who is coaching most of Chip’s players.
So sure, Chip never won the big game, that cant be argued. But put in perspective where Oregon football was prior to him, where he took Oregon, and where they are now.
If that’s not convincing, lets turn our attention to another former college coach who left for greener pastures in the NBA. Brad Stevens took over the Butler Bulldogs in 2007. He started his coaching career leading Butler to a 27-3 record and to the second round of the NCAA Tournament where they lost in overtime to 2 seeded Tennessee. Stevens lost 4 starters following the 07-08 season. That’s no matter, the 08-09 season they went 26-6. Stevens is second all time in total wins in 2 years with 56 behind only Bill Guthridge at power house North Carolina.
The 09-10 season was a special one for Stevens. He led the Bulldogs all the way to NCAA Championship game where they lost to Duke. If you remember Gordon Hayward barely missed a half court shot at the buzzer that would’ve given Butler the title over Duke. He took the Bulldogs back to the Championship game in 10-11 where they lost to Connecticut.
Stevens led the Bulldogs to their only trips to the title game ever, he took them to their only Final Four appearances in school history, their only elite eight appearances in school history. Sure Brad Stevens didn’t win the championship, but ask any Butler fan if they would take him back.
Wisconsin was a nobody until Barry Alvarez took over the college football program. Sticking with Wisconsin, hows Bo Ryan done in basketball? What would Davidson say about their hoops coach Bob McKillop? If you want to step up to the big show, ask the Jazz about Jerry Sloan or the Buffalo Bills about Marv Levy? Prior to Kentucky winning the basketball title in 2012, John Calipari didn’t have a championship on his resume’, did that stop him from getting job offer after job offer?
Or how about Bill Bellicheck who was 36-44 when he was fired from the Cleveland Browns in 1995? Do you think Bob Kraft regrets hiring him? Pete Carroll was 33-31 combined in his 4 seasons prior to going to USC. He won 2 College Football Championships and a Super Bowl.
So ladies and gentlemen, its all relative. Its easy to make the argument that they didn’t win the big game. But sometimes its harder to do what some of these guys did than winning the big game. The cliché is old and tiresome, just ask some of these fan bases…. who haven’t even been able to think about winning the big game since these guys left.