From Comcast SportsNetChip Kelly is staying at Oregon.Two people with knowledge of the decision confirmed Sunday night that Kelly is passing up a chance to coach in the NFL to remain with the Ducks. One person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Oregon and Kelly haven't formally announced the decision, while the other person wasn't authorized to reveal Kelly's plans. The decision was first reported by ESPN.Kelly had lengthy interviews this weekend with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, and also talked to the Buffalo Bills. Last year, he had talks with Tampa Bay.The 49-year-old coach earned a base salary of 2.8 million this past season last at Oregon and has five years left on his contract. The No. 5 Ducks, known for the innovative offense that Kelly devised, beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl on Thursday night to finish the season 12-1.Kelly is 46-7 in four years at Oregon and the Ducks have been to four straight BCS bowl games -- including a bid for the national championship against Auburn two seasons ago -- and won three Pac-12 championships. He originally came to the Ducks in 2007 as offensive coordinator under Mike Bellotti. Before that, he was offensive coordinator at New Hampshire.Earlier Sunday, a person familiar with Cleveland's coaching search said the team passed on Kelly after he was indecisive about making the leap to the NFL. The Browns nearly had a deal with Kelly two days ago, but they've moved on to other candidates, said the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the search.The buyout for Kelly's contract with Oregon is 3.5 million.Kelly's decision to stay at Oregon came as a surprise after months of speculation that this season was his last with the Ducks. It appeared that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was the leading candidate to replace him.Ducks fans at the Fiesta Bowl made their feelings clear by chanting "We want Chip!" during the victory celebration.Nikeco-founder and Oregon mega-booster Phil Knight proclaimed to a reporter following the game: "I was one of em."Kelly himself said about the NFL interest: "I'll listen and we'll see."But at the same time, he acknowledged a love for Oregon."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," Kelly said. "Gave me an opportunity to come here. It really means a lot."In staying with Oregon, Kelly will still have to deal with fallout from an NCAA investigation into the school's use of recruiting services.The inquiry is the result of reports that surfaced in 2011 concerning payments Oregon made to two such services, including a 25,000 check sent to Willie Lyles and Houston-based Complete Scouting Services in 2010. Lyles had a relationship with a player who committed to Oregon.Last month, Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is headed toward a hearing with the NCAA committee on infractions because the two sides couldn't come to an agreement on appropriate sanctions. Yahoo cited two unidentified sources.Earlier this year, Oregon requested a summary disposition in the case. The school presented a report to the infractions committee outlining violations the school believed occurred and appropriate sanctions. But that request was apparently turned down.The NCAA does not comment on ongoing investigations."We've cooperated fully with them. If they want to talk to us again, we'll continue to cooperate fully," Kelly said following the Fiesta Bowl. "I feel confident in the situation."Kelly explained that he stayed at Oregon following the interest from Tampa Back because he had "unfinished business" with the Ducks. The team was ranked No. 1 and appeared headed for another shot at the national championship until a 17-14 loss to Stanford on Nov. 17.
The Cubs already have a Cy Young Award winner, someone who was transforming into the hottest pitcher on the planet around this time in 2015, and then beat the Cleveland Indians twice on the road in last year’s World Series.
So the Cubs can keep discussing Justin Verlander and trying to figure out the price point where it makes sense, what caliber prospects they would have to give up and how much money the Detroit Tigers would have to kick in to cover a bill that could soar toward $90 million.
But Jake Arrieta showed why the Cubs might finally start to run away from the division and become a very dangerous team in October, dominating the White Sox on Wednesday night at Guaranteed Rate Field during an 8-3 win that vaulted them into first place in the National League Central.
“We expect to remain in first place,” Arrieta said. “We know it’s going to be a tough task, but that’s kind of what you deal with at the highest level of sports. You expect to have really good competition from teams that are either equal with you or close behind.
“We feel like we have the group to separate ourselves at this point in time and remain in first place for the remainder of the way.”
The Cubs probably don’t have the blue-chip prospects – and the appetite to raid their farm system again – to blow away the Oakland A’s and win a bidding war for Sonny Gray. The Cubs kick the tires on everything, but Yu Darvish would be a rental and the Texas Rangers are torn over what to do with their Japanese star.
This is another reason why the Cubs are focusing on adding a veteran backup catcher and strengthening the bullpen before the July 31 trade deadline: Arrieta Watch is back, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning in front of a sellout crowd of 38,517 before Omar Narvaez drilled a ground-rule double into the right-center field seats.
The Cubs are 10-2 since trading for Jose Quintana during the All-Star break, erasing a 5.5-game deficit against the Milwaukee Brewers heading into this weekend’s showdown at Miller Park. At 53-47, the Cubs are a season-high six games over .500, and it all starts with pitching.
“I think we’ve got the pieces to get it done,” Arrieta said. “If there’s a situation where we can get another guy and not lose any key players, it might work in our favor.
“Obviously, when we traded for Quintana, that’s a huge addition to our ballclub. This guy’s really good. He works his butt off. And just seeing how he carries himself in between starts is a really great sign. To have a guy like that who works extremely hard and cares about the team winning ballgames – you can’t replace that.
“That trade right there in itself is one that’s going to pay huge dividends for this ballclub, not only for this year, but for the next couple years. But we’re a great team right now, and I think we have the pieces to get it done.”
Arrieta was on cruise control until Yoan Moncada launched his 98th and final pitch – an 0-2 curveball – 409 feet over the center-field wall with two outs in the seventh inning. Arrieta only allowed those two hits, giving up two runs and finishing with five strikeouts against two walks, continuing the correction super-agent Scott Boras predicted when the Chicago media and Cubs fans wondered about his flashes of diminished velocity and spikes in hard contact during a free-agency push.
Arrieta has methodically put together 10 wins and three straight quality starts after the All-Star break, chopping his ERA down from 5.44 in the middle of May to 4.03. Ricky Renteria’s White Sox are obviously tanking for the future and there are a lot of conditions attached to this statement:
But if Arrieta pitches like this, Jon Lester continues to be one of the best big-game pitchers of his generation, Quintana excels in a pennant race and Kyle Hendricks regains his feel and rhythm after six-plus weeks on the disabled list, then the Cubs might have a better playoff rotation than the one that ended the 108-year drought.
“We’re feelin’ it,” Arrieta said, thinking back to last summer, when Theo Epstein’s front office added 100-mph closer Aroldis Chapman to a team with close to a 99-percent chance of making the playoffs. “I remember last year we were in this clubhouse around this same time, and it’s no different.”
Look at the competition: The Washington Nationals might be forced into adding a frontline starter now that Stephen Strasburg is headed to the 10-day disabled list with a nerve impingement in his right forearm. The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping a strained lower back won’t stop Clayton Kershaw from making a few tune-up starts in September before becoming their Game 1 starter in October.
With or without Verlander, the Cubs are ramping up to defend their title.
“I’m going to continue to get stronger as the year progresses,” Arrieta said. “I feel like my best baseball, my best pitching, is still ahead of me. And I’m ready for it.”