Philadelphia, PA – The man with the fastest offense in football wasn't so quick about making a decision regarding his head coaching future.
The Philadelphia Eagles remained patient, though, and when Chip Kelly came calling, a new era for the franchise was decided.
The Eagles named Kelly their 21st head football coach in team history Wednesday, and he was introduced at a news conference Thursday at the team's training complex.
"It's a really exciting time for me," Kelly said. "It was a difficult decision. There's not many opportunities to coach in the National Football League, and every one of them is special. But this is an iconic franchise with an outstanding owner ... I know about the fan base in Philadelphia, and that excites me. I understand what this city is all about, I'm just glad of the opportunity to be here."
Kelly went 46-7 and led Oregon to a BCS bowl game in each of his four years with the school. The 49-year-old will bring his innovative mind, a lightning-fast up-tempo offense which averaged 44.7 points per game at Oregon, and aggressive play-calling to the NFL for the first time. He has no prior coaching experience in the pros.
His fast-paced offense, will need a quarterback, though, and Kelly addressed the situation with returnees Nick Foles and Michael Vick.
"I'm going to look at everyone, and look at everything we can do to put the best product on the field," Kelly said.
Wednesday was the end of an extensive and exhausting search for the Eagles, who let go of longtime head coach Andy Reid on Dec. 31 following a 4-12 campaign.
Reid reached out to Kelly Wednesday.
"(He) told me about his experience here and what this organization is all about. There's not a classier guy," Kelly said.
The Eagles reportedly interviewed 11 candidates prior to choosing Kelly, including Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Tuesday. But Bradley left Philly without an offer and became the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.
Philadelphia also brought in Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith and former Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was picked to be the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.
"The key was to find the right leader, not make the fastest decision," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. "We really were able to circle back with Coach Chip Kelly. We had an outstanding interview with him on Jan. 5. It was an outstanding nine hours, we learned a lot. We were told the same day that it was really a question of going to the Eagles or going back to Oregon. At that point, we learned he might go back to the University of Oregon, but we kept in touch."
Kelly came to the Ducks in 2007 as their offensive coordinator under head coach Mike Bellotti before taking over for him in 2009. Kelly was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire for seven years prior.
Oregon, which made an appearance in the 2011 BCS title game under Kelly, finished last season at 12-1.
"It was very, very difficult to say goodbye to a bunch of men that I truly love and respect," Kelly said of leaving Oregon.
Kelly almost jumped to the NFL last year, but turned down a head coaching offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to return for his fourth season at Oregon.