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Kelly will listen to NFL, and 'we'll see'

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon coach Chip Kelly gets drenched by his players at the end of the Ducks' 35-17 Fiesta Bowl win over Kansas State.GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Oregon fans at the Fiesta Bowl chanted for coach Chip Kelly to stay as the Ducks received their trophy after a 35-17 win against Kansas State.

Players also chanted, trying to encourage the ultra-successful coach to consider staying with the Ducks rather than jump at an NFL coaching offer.

Kelly's take on all the fuss about him interviewing with Cleveland, Philadelphia and Buffalo and perhaps other teams as one of the NFL's hottest coaching prospects?

"I'll talk to Dave," Kelly said, of agent David Dunn. "He was great. ... I was getting my hair cut on Wednesday and saw my name at the bottom of ESPN (broadcast), which I thought was funny because I haven't talked to anybody.

"I'll sit down and talk with Dave. I've said I'll always listen. That's what I'll do. But I know that people want to talk to me because of our players. The success of our football program has always been about our guys. It's an honor that someone would say they wanted to talk to me about maybe moving on to coach in the National Football League. But it's because of what those (players) do. So I'll listen, and we'll see."

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: MEG WILLIAMS - Oregon coach Chip Kelly doffs his visor to the crowd during the Fiesta Bowl trophy presentation on the field at University of Phoenix Stadium with ESPN's Rece Davis (left), Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota and the rest of the winning team.What about the chants from fans and players?

"I think it just really for me reaffirms what this place is all about," Kelly said. "It's a special place with special people. They accepted me six years ago when I was at New Hampshire. Not many people knew about me. Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot."

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Coach Chip Kelly shares the stage as Oregon linebacker Michael Clay is named defensive MVP of the Fiesta BowlHis players would be sad to see him leave, but they understand what the opportunity to coach in the NFL would mean to Kelly, who has a 46-7 record in four years, after two seasons of making his mark with the Ducks as offensive coordinator.

The seven teams that have beaten Oregon, including Stanford this season, combined to go 82-12.

Players said the coach didn't say good-bye or anything else about his status to them after the game. They sang the UO fight song, Kelly said.

"Coach Kelly's going to do the best thing for him, and I know he's a competitor and wants to coach at the highest level," sophomore cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu said. "If he comes back, it'll be great. If he leaves, we're going to reload."

"If he decides he wants to go and win games at the higher level, more power to him," junior safety Brian Jackson said. "I love what he's done for us and this program. I'm grateful for what he's done in my life, and I just wish him the best. I want to stay in touch with him no matter what."

Senior punter Jackson Rice described Kelly as "a secretive guy," so the players don't know what the coach will do.

"I'm sure he hasn't made any decision, yet, we'll see," Rice said.

Tight end Colt Lyerla, a sophomore and one of 65 freshmen or sophomores on the UO team, might have another coach next year. It could be offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich.

"It's not really a big deal," Lyerla said. "Not too much will change around here, whether (Kelly) stays or leaves. I'm happy for him if he goes, whatever he wants to do with his career."

Offensive lineman Kyle Long, who played just one season with the Ducks, has the unique perspective of having a dad (Howie Long) play in the NFL and a brother (Chris) starring in the NFL.

"He's a nice guy, and he's funny," said Long, of Kelly's personality to manage NFL players. "I'm sure people will like him. We all love Coach Kelly. I don't know what he's going to do."

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon coach Chip Kelly and defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti shake hands after the Ducks cap a 12-1 season with their 35-17 win over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl.Helfrich reiterated that he would love for Kelly to stay at Oregon, although much talk has been about him being the successor, to continue the stability of the coaching staff and system and secure recruits. The UO program also faces the potential for NCAA penalties; hearings in the spring will deal with the Willie Lyles recruiting scandal that took place under Kelly's watch. Kelly says the program has cooperated with the investigation and "I feel confident in the situation."

"I love Chip Kelly," Helfrich said. "I hope he stays at Oregon forever, I love working for the guy. The players love him, the staff loves him."

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: MEG WILLIAMS - Oregon Ducks fans at Thursday's Fiesta Bowl show their feelings about possibly losing coach Chip Kelly to the NFL.Added freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota: "We have a solid foundation, a bright future. ... Coach Kelly will decide what he has to do. We've all said it: We're behind him 100 percent. We're thankful for whatever he's done. But once he makes his decision, we're ready to work again."

Kelly said his "unfinished business" comment after rebuffing the Tampa Bay Bucs offer last offseason wasn't about wins and losses, but more about continuing to build the Oregon program.

He described the NFL interviews as "a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit."

He added: "I don't really have that answer. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. ... I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are. I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be."

The NFL rumors weren't going to be a distraction at the Fiesta Bowl, he said, adding,

"I think it's an honor."by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: MEG WILLIAMS - Oregon Ducks coach Chip Kelly listens to a question during the Fiesta Bowl postgame press conference.