Oregon tabs offensive coordinator Kelly as Bellotti's eventual successor

Updated: December 2, 2008, 9:26 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Mike Bellotti is Oregon's head coach for now. Chip Kelly has been picked to eventually replace the man who's been leading the Ducks for the last 14 seasons.

How long until eventually comes is anybody's guess.

Oregon became the latest school to name a coach-in-waiting, picking Kelly, in his second season as the Ducks' offensive coordinator, as Bellotti's successor.

Bellotti will become the school's athletic director when he steps down. He said Tuesday he will coach the Ducks in their bowl game and continue to recruit.

Asked if he would step down after this season, Bellotti told reporters during a conference call he didn't think so.

"It could be a year, it could be more," he said. "I don't know."

The 56-year-old Bellotti is 115-55 in 14 seasons at Oregon and has taken the Ducks to 12 bowl games. The Ducks were Pacific-10 Conference co-champions in 2000 and champions in 2001, and were ranked No. 2 following a 38-16 victory over Colorado in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon went 9-3 this season, good for no worse than a second-place finish in the conference, and are likely headed to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 30.

Currently the longest tenured coach in the Pac-10, Bellotti took over as head coach of the Ducks in 1995 after serving as an offensive coordinator under Rich Brooks.

"I will not pursue Bobby Bowden or Joe Paterno's records, that's for sure," Bellotti said.

Picking a successor while a successful coach is in place has become all the rage in college football.

Texas recently announced defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will eventually replace Mack Brown. Florida State, Kentucky and Purdue have all made similar moves in the last two seasons.

The "succession plan" released by the university come amid reports that the 45-year-old Kelly was to be interviewed by Syracuse for its head coaching position.

"I will not speak to any other schools. I'm a Duck," he said.

Kelly is in the first season of a four-year deal that pays him about $335,000 per year. Using his spread-option offense, the Ducks are ranked fourth in the nation in rushing, averaging 277.8 yards a game, and are eighth in total offense with 467.2 yards a game.

In his first season at Oregon, Kelly helped turn quarterback Dennis Dixon into a Heisman Trophy contender.

"I feel like I've been put in a great situation. Basically a lot of this was at my suggestion, because of Chip's popularity and the job he's done for us," Bellotti said.

Before Oregon, Kelly was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at New Hampshire for eight seasons.

"I really realize what a special place Oregon is, and I don't want to go anywhere else," Kelly said.

Bellotti would replace Pat Kilkenny as AD, who took over in February 2007 and said at the time he planned to serve in that position for two years.

A prominent booster, Kilkenny has spearhead plans to build a new basketball arena that would replace venerable McArthur Court.

"Pat has accomplished an extraordinary amount in the time he has been at the University of Oregon," university president Dave Frohnmayer said. "My goal is to establish a plan for an orderly transition so when he leaves, the athletics department will be able to continue to thrive."

Kilkenny said he would leave the timetable for the change to Bellotti.

"We'll compare notes, and I'm glad to continue as athletic director until it makes sense to have Mike step into the role," he said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press