Chip Kelly holds court, minus assistant coaches
LOS ANGELES - The 2012 Rose Bowl is now looming close, not off in the distance. On Saturday, Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly held court in a press conference one last time before Monday's 2 p.m. game against Wisconsin.
Kelly did not take Saturday as an opportunity to change the philosophy he has doggedly preached since taking over the Ducks three years ago. The Ducks may be 0-2 in their last two BCS games, but what happened in the past does not necessarily mean anything to the team right now.
'We've always been a forward-thinking operation,' Kelly said. 'Every year is a new season for us. So we can look back at our experiences and how we can do things better, but there is no, 'Hey, we won this year, so that justifies what happened the other two years.''
A lot has been said about the legacy that the Duck players will leave behind after the Rose Bowl. While legacy may be a symbolic word to many, when it is used to talk about the things that a college football player accomplishes, Kelly finds it comical.
'I do find it humorous when people talk about 19-, 20-, 21-year old kids and what their legacy is going to be,' Kelly said. 'I can't get some of our kids to remember what happened yesterday in practice, let alone what happened last January, so ...'
Kelly said he isn't interested in establishing his own legacy, either. Many have called Monday's game a defining moment for Kelly, a place where he can break through as a coach and finally win a "big" game. Win or lose, though, he said the game against Wisconsin will not change how he conducts his life.
'They can write and say whatever they want,' Kelly said. 'We really don't get caught up in that. If you make a game bigger than it is, it diminishes all the other victories. So our goal every single day is to win the day, and that's what this deal is all about.
'I've never been a guy that reflects back and says, 'Hey, we did this, we did that.' It's always moving forward. So no matter what the outcome is on Monday, we have to get up on Tuesday, and get recruiting and play for the next season. And that's what our mindset is.'
The Ducks did not bring the assistant coaches to media day on Friday, which they were required to do. Later, on Friday evening, a text message was sent to members of the media announcing that the assistant coaches would be available at the Home Depot Center from 9 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Kelly denied to lay blame for the mix-up.
'Yeah, that's got to be an administrative thing,' Kelly said. 'I don't say who is going anywhere. I just get in the bus and go. Last time I took a head check was when I was back in high school. So I've got nothing to do with that one.'
The assistant coaches not being made available on media day is just one more thing on the long list of complaints members of the media have made over the years about Kelly's public relations policies. While many people in the media have become annoyed with those policies, it is hard to find any player at Oregon who would say anything bad about Kelly.
Kelly said that the main difference between how he treats the media and how he treats his players is trust.
'I'm different with our players because I trust our players and I'm with them every day, and I understand what they're all about,' Kelly says. 'I'm like that with everybody. It ain't going to be Kumbaya and hug you the first time I meet you. But if I see you every day and understand what you're about every day and that you share the same vision that I have, then I'll die for you.'
When Kelly was asked about Saturday being the last day of the year, he immediately jumped to the worst (Mayan prophecy?).
'You're a gloom and doom guy, huh?' Kelly asked.
Umm, no, coach. That would be the last day of this calendar year.
The point settled that he was being asked about the last day of 2011 and not the last day of the world, Kelly joked that the Ducks were going to live it up Saturday night.
'We're actually going to fly to New York City to see the ball drop,' Kelly said, laughing.
Actually, the Ducks were expected to have a quiet New Year's Eve, staying in their hotel rooms.
'Our guys haven't been out past 10 p.m. since we've been here,' Kelly said. 'Our guys are getting ready to get up for practice. It may be New Year's Eve in everybody else's lives, but it's not New Year's Eve in our lives. I can tell you that.'
Kelly has trademarked the motto 'Win the Day.'
With the year drawing to a close, an obvious question is how many days did he win in 2011?
'I'd have to check my calendar,' he said. 'I don't know.'
Wait, Kelly really keeps track of how many days he wins in his calendar?
'Do I keep a record of when I win or not?' he said. 'No. I'm not that anal.'
Kelly also said that he does not believe in New Year's resolutions. There apparently is no need to resolve to change your life from one year to the next when you are winning most every day.
'I've never been a New Year's resolution guy,' Kelly said. 'I didn't know it was the last day of the year until (you) just said that. You better live your life the right way every day, and not wait to start it over every year.'