So Chip Kelly had “superior talent” at Oregon, huh?

Heath Evans of NFL.com wrote a nonsensical “look at me” piece on Wednesday, complete with an over-the-top proclamation that the hiring of Chip Kelly will be one of the worst in pro football history.

I could pick Evans’ article apart point by point, but his first reason why Kelly will fail is a common argument that has surfaced quite a bit since Kelly and the Eagles were able to work out a deal.  Let’s focus on that.  There’s a feeling that the best recruits in the nation have been flocking to Oregon, drawn by Oregon’s up-tempo offense, Nike, Phil Knight, Oregon’s uniforms, and other assorted reasons. Evans noted that Kelly will not have that same “recruiting advantage” in the NFL.

1. No recruiting advantage

For the past four years, Kelly had the biggest recruiting advantage ever known to a college coach. His name is Phil Knight, the CEO of Nike and a major University of Oregon donor and school alumnus who pumps millions of dollars into the football program each year. Despite the enormous benefits of this relationship, Kelly never brought a BCS title to Eugene.

In four years with the Ducks, he had a 46-7 record but never finished higher than third in the polls, including 2010 when he lost to Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. In the NFL, you don’t get 10 first-round picks, and in Philly, the league’s best free agents aren’t lining up to join the Eagles.

Rivals.com is a network of websites under the Yahoo umbrella that was started in 1998 and employs over 300 people.  Every year, they rank the top 100 high school football recruits in the nation.  Over the last four years (Chip Kelly’s entire tenure as Oregon’s head coach), Oregon has attracted 10 Top 100 high school recruits.  Those players are listed below:

Oregon

Getting 10 Top 100 recruits over the course of 4 years is pretty good.  Nice job recruiting, Chip and Phil.  (Golf clap).

But it’s not like Oregon has been raking in the cream of the crop like the USC’s, Florida’s and Alabama’s of the world.  For example, Pac 12 rival USC raked in 32 Top 100 recruits in the last 4 years, more than triple Oregon’s total:

USC 1 USC 2

Let’s do some other Pac 12 programs. Anyone think of UCLA as a big time football program?  They were able to get 11 Top 100 recruits over the last 4 years, one more than Oregon:

UCLA

Stanford had 8:

Stanford

Cal had 7, and they went 3-9 this season:

Cal

Hell, even Washington found a way to get 5, as they licked their wounds after going 0-12 in 2008:

Washington

So here’s how the Pac 12 looks in terms of recruiting over the last 4 years:

Top Pac 12 teams

And here’s how many in the Top 50:

Top Pac 12 teams 2

So was Chip Kelly really getting the cream of the crop, or did it just seem that way because Oregon steamrolled so many opponents during Kelly’s tenure?  You tell me.

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20 Comments

  1. Heath Evans, so, so bad. Even in just the part you quoted:

    “he had a 46-7 record but never finished higher than third in the polls.”
    Except this year, when he finished second.

    “in Philly, the league’s best free agents aren’t lining up to join the Eagles.”
    Nope. Just Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Evan Mathis and Michael Vick.

    Also when you get to the BCS title game but lose by three, kinda disingenious to use “never won a BCS title” as a talking point, as though he wasn’t one play away. But at least that’s technically a fact.

  2. OlSkoolSkinsFan1972 says:

    Heath Evans made himself look like a complete tool talking about Chip Kelly and the Read Option Offense. He tried to justify that the Read Option wouldn’t work because QB’s would get hurt then he continually used RG3 as an example. Well last I checked RG3 didn’t get hurt running read-option plays and if Heath Evans wasn’t so busy talking out of his behind he would know that. I think Kelly is an interesting hire and it’s gonna be a tough matchup for the Skins D that doesn’t play well against read option plays.

  3. KB_Dave says:

    Of those Top 100 recruits, two of them transferred after barely playing (Seastrunk and Blackmon), and Curtis White was forced to quit football due to injuries, and I don’t believe he ever got on the field for the Ducks.

    Evans is a fool. In the NFL, players will go either where the money is, or where they think they can win, or a combination. Do you think Mario Williams went to the Bills because Buffalo is a really nice place to live? C’mon now. If that team turns around, top free agents will come.

  4. [...] Jimmy Bama has a good post on Chip Kelly and the the incorrect notion that he won at Oregon due to s….  Heath Evans was a good player, but as an NFL analyst I think he’s a bit of an idiot. [...]

  5. To be fair Chip DID have top 25 recruiting class for past couple of years or so, but so have Harbaugh, and Pete.

  6. David_Does_Dallas says:

    It will be nice to see how he fares this upcoming season, so all this speculation on if he is any good will end.

  7. The guys Kelly has turned into superstars there don’t even make this list (plays like LaMichael James, Kejon Barner, any of their QBs) and the 3 highest recruit they had, Lache Seastrunk actually transferred, among other reasons, because he wasn’t playing. System not talent.

  8. dannymac056 says:

    It’s a bad article, but what he’s saying is right… only in that it applies to any coach jumping from a top program to the league. Your overall point is right- he wasn’t getting better top kids than everyone else. Oregon is well known for their depth- they recruited that for the system they ran. They did an excellent job of it.

    Did he have better talent than all but a few teams on his schedule? Yeah, probably. Did he have better talent than Stanford, who he lost to? Almost every scout or coach would say yes.

    On the flip side, did he out-coach some guys with better talent? Hell yes (Kiffin’s pride is still recovering), he’s a great coach. He will play USCs and Stanfords every week now.

    I am 100% sure Kelly will out coach some teams like he did USC. But the other games aren’t gonna look like the rest of his schedule, which is true every time a coach jumps to the league.

  9. Average Joseph says:

    I heard Heath Evans interviewed on 97.5 “the Fanatic” this week. All I can say is, he is a total idiot. His reasoning and logic is awful.

    Just An Average Joseph

    1. Love that you have a signoff line for comments.

  10. Cowboy Luv says:

    Heath Evans (wanna be Skip) &Darren Sharper(wanna be Primetime) Should be Fired!

  11. cowboy78 says:

    Heath is all about the “look at me” comment, he is well on his way to becoming NFL Networks version of Skip Bayless.

  12. AndersJ says:

    Can somebody tell me why Nike’s money should have anything to do with recruits consider they cant pay them?

    1. Chad says:

      It allows Oregon to purchase new equipment, better facilities, and hire excellent trainers. Which is what certain athletes are looking for.

      1. mjoedgaard says:

        and schools like Alabama, USC, Florida, LSU etc. should be able to do the same.

  13. rex says:

    People have the misconception that EVERY college coach can get EVERY player at EVERY position they want and don’t actually have to do any coaching. They just recruit get the best talent and win.

  14. Chad says:

    Obviously getting a Top 100 is great, but I would be interested in the breakdown of position. I would imagine seeing more offense (probably WRs) going to Oregon, where places like Stanford getting OL. (Sorry I know I could look it up myself, but don’t follow Pac-12 that much to care).

  15. Bob says:

    Pffft, who needs facts.

  16. Dez Bryant's Probation Officer says:

    should do same for SEC schools

  17. Tom says:

    It just seemed that way because Oregon steamrolled so many opponents during Kelly’s tenure.

    Did I get it right?!

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