It's Official

Highlights from Saturday's press conference officially announcing Mike Bellotti and Chip Kelly as new athletic director and head coach, respectively, at the University of Oregon.



Bellotti is excited about the "challenge of a new job" and stated that he is "very comfortable turning over the [head coaching] job to Chip Kelly", saying that, "Chip has earned [Bellotti's] respect and the admiration of [the Oregon] coaches and players during his short time [at Oregon]."

Moving to the position of Athletic Director is something that Bellotti has considered doing for "a couple of years", stating that the reason he didn't decide to step down before the 2007-08 season was because he was "disgusted" by the state of the football team following the embarrassing 38-8 loss to BYU in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl.

It was not an easy decision for Bellotti to make, he admitted, stating that he considered the overall effects his decision would have on "the football program, [Bellotti's] family, coaches, and all that." Bellotti went on to mention that he had reached "a calm" and "a peace" with the finality of his decision.

Kelly called the opportunity to be the 30th head football coach in the history of the University of Oregon, "a tremendous honor."

"Very rarely," said Kelly, "do you have the opportunity to become a head coach in college football and to be able to come into a situation [like the one at Oregon]; usually you get the opportunity to be a head coach because you have to turn a program around. You get the chance to take a team, that finished 9th in the country last year, that's one of the pre-eminent programs in the country, that has a name no matter where you are when you travel through this country, people know who the University of Oregon is...and to be picked to be the successor to Mike Bellotti is really tough for me to put into words."

Kelly said that Bellotti would "leave big shoes to fill", but that it's not just Kelly filling the shoes, it's the 105 players on the Oregon roster and the "outstanding coaches" that Oregon has doing their part to take the program to the next level.

Kelly stated that the one thing he takes comfort in, is that, "I [Kelly] know I'm going to need some help in this and [Bellotti] is only going to be about a hop, skip, and a jump away...it's just a win-win situation. When it was presented to me, by Mike, back in November, it was...you kind of had to catch yourself, to be honest with you."

Outgoing Athletic Director, Pat Kilkenny, said that he "couldn't be more thrilled for Oregon athletics and our Oregon football program. We couldn't have had a better outcome; the future is bright."

In Bellotti's mind, he will be called upon to provide "leadership and guidance" in his new role as Athletic Director.

As far as the evolution of Bellotti's decision to relinquish his duties as head football coach, Bellotti said that someone asked him "was there pressure to [leave] because next year's team could be a really good team, or 'you won your last game' and those things were all factors but not one [was a] deal-breaker. Nothing really entered into it, per se. It was more just the timing."

Bellotti said that he officially decided to leave "Thursday night, to be announced Friday morning."

Bellotti claimed that he "wanted to keep Chip Kelly" all along. Bellotti said he feels Kelly is "an outstanding football coach, [with] great organizational skills, a great recruiter, thorough, innovative, competent...all those things...he has the necessary criteria to be successful as a head football coach at the Division I level."

At the end of the season Bellotti was leaning "60/40, 75/25 to go out", but as you go through the off-season, Bellotti said, "[and] go speak at clinics, talk to football coaches, and recognize what our life is about, and the ability to change lives, and what you're involved with, that is a harder thing [to deal with]", admitting that he came back to a "50/50 mode".

Kelly said he has given "all thought" as to whether or not he'll call the offensive plays next season. "There's a process that you have to go through at any state institution, in terms of a hiring process," Kelly stated "I'm going to go out and actively interview people in the next coming weeks and we'll hopefully have a [coach] in place come [March] 30th." Kelly went on, saying that he's "looking for the best football coach out there...I'm going to scour the country and I'm going to hire the best person that is the best fit for this football program." Kelly admitted that he could maintain offensive coordinator duties, but wasn't going to be hasty in his decision-making.

When asked further about any changes to offensive game-planning or play-calling, Kelly said that his "fingerprint will always be on the offensive side of the ball" and he expects that the only thing that will change this year, to next year, is "hopefully we'll score more points." Kelly maintained that by the time the Ducks are in spring camp, they will know which direction they are going with regard to who will be in place.

Kelly was asked what attributes will play in to his decision-making to hire a new offensive coach. "Everything," stated Kelly, "I want -- to use a baseball analogy -- a five-tool guy. I don't want a guy who is all hit, no field. You can't afford to have a liability on one side or the other. That's what our staff here is. I think the guys that are in place right now are unbelievable. They're great recruiters, they're great teachers, they're great role-models and I don't think it's very hard to attract someone to come here. There will be more than plenty well-qualified candidates for the position."

When asked if there would be any changes to any of the other athletic programs at the University of Oregon, specifically the men's and women's basketball programs, Bellotti said that he won't know and won't necessarily be involved with initiating any changes until July 1st. Bellotti stated that he imagines he will be "in that loop" and providing advice from a coaching perspective to the administration with regard to making any coaching changes.

Bellotti said that one of the toughest things throughout the whole decision-making process was telling the team he wouldn't be there anymore, saying that "it's like telling your children you're not going to be there." Though the nice thing, he said, is that is he is going to be there, albeit in a different role.

Bellotti said he hopes his legacy is that he continued to build upon the foundation that "Rich Brooks and others developed."

Kilkenny was asked whether or not he anticipated any changes to the men's and women's basketball programs, and he revealed that he intends on meeting with Coach Bev Smith on Sunday and that nothing has been decided with regard to her job at this moment. Kilkenny also said that he intends on meeting with Coach Ernie Kent when Kent gets back to Eugene before the end of next week to discuss "the future of Oregon basketball."

Kilkenny stated the most urgent task that will be charged to Bellotti will be to "broaden" the donor base, and keep the athletic department self-sustaining in the current economic climate.

of media conference.


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