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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Auburn's Gene Chizik, Oregon's Chip Kelly have rapid rise in college coaching ranks

I wrote a story for today's newspaper about Auburn coach Gene Chizik and Oregon coach Chip Kelly's rapid rise in college football's coaching ranks. Here's how it starts:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- They are hardly household names, relatively new to the scene as head coaches, but Auburn’s Gene Chizik and Oregon’s Chip Kelly are nevertheless the envy of their profession, one victory away from sitting atop the college football world.

It’s been a rapid rise for Chizik and Kelly, two second-year coaches who will meet in Monday’s BCS national title game, despite only six years of head coaching experience between them.

Chizik, a defensive coordinator on back-to-back undefeated teams at Auburn in 2004 and Texas in 2005, returned to Auburn as head coach in 2009 after two rocky years at Iowa State.

Kelly, a longtime offensive coach at New Hampshire, a Football Championship Subdivision school, joined Oregon in 2007 as offensive coordinator and succeeded Mike Bellotti after the 2008 season.

“Coaches come from all walks of life,” Kelly said. “It’s just, do you get an opportunity to coach at a certain level?

“I have always felt the big time is where you are at. It doesn’t matter if you are going to play in a game that everyone is going to watch or no one is going to watch; you will approach it the same way.”

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