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Florida Should Make a Run at Chip Kelly

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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An accomplished offensive mastermind, Chip Kelly's innovation would be just what the doctor ordered for Florida.

As Florida moves forward from the Jim McElwain era in Gainesville, the coaching rumor mill, in regards to the Gators, is in full overdrive. With three national championships since 1996 and resources that compare to any program in the country, Florida is undoubtedly one of the top jobs in all of college football. Fan support to facilities, high school talent to history, the Gators have it all. This next hire awaits as a critical one for new Athletic Director Scott Stricklin and Florida.      

Though the Gators must be prepared for a number of candidates and scenarios, option number one should be a clear one: Chip Kelly.

The former head coach at Oregon, Kelly is currently an ESPN analyst after being fired by the San Francisco 49ers. While his NFL stints, along with the Philadelphia Eagles, were inconsistent, Kelly was a truly exceptional college head coach. He went 46-7 in four years with the Ducks, playing, in consecutive seasons, in the Rose Bowl, BCS National Championship Game, Rose Bowl and Fiesta Bowl. Twice in Kelly's four years in Eugene, Oregon was ranked number one in the country.

An accomplished offensive mastermind, Kelly's innovation would be just what the doctor ordered for Florida. Currently, the Gators rank 113th nationally in total offense. While head coach at Oregon, Kelly's offense never finished lower than 8th in the country in scoring, with the Ducks leading all of college football in touchdowns scored in 2010 and 2012 and pacing power five football in 2011. Kelly helped develop a young Marcus Mariota, who went on to win the 2014 Heisman Trophy.

From 2009-2011, Oregon ranked first, fourth and fifth in the nation in total offense, with Kelly's offense topping out at 537 yards per game his final season; for point of reference, Florida is currently averaging 336.

Who knows how Kelly would respond to an offer from Florida, but the pairing of his philosophy with Florida's pedigree could be a truly dynamic one. Kelly would be a splash hire, immediately shaking up the college football landscape and putting the pressure on the program's rivals to, literally and figuratively, keep up. Kelly would hit the ground running.

Even with two straight trips to the SEC Championship Game, the Gators have struggled for even modest offensive production. Long gone are the days of Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow, Jacquez Green and Percy Harvin, an era Kelly, with an unrivaled recruiting pool to pull from, could soon bring back. Kelly would have the potential to have a Steve Spurrier-type offensive impact on Florida's future.

Given that Kelly isn't currently coaching anywhere, the negotiations could, in theory, be less complicated than with other candidates.  

in replacing McElwain, the Gators need to make the right hire. Kelly should be their first call.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports