Former Wildcat player, assistant coach leaves Oregon for the NFL
Chip Kelly, player (1981-84)
The Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League confirmed Wednesday that former University of New Hampshire football player and longtime assistant coach Chip Kelly (’90) will be named their new head coach. A formal news conference to introduce Kelly is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Kelly, who played quarterback and defensive back for legendary head coach Bill Bowes at UNH from 1981-84, graduated from UNH with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education in 1990 before starting his college coaching career as an assistant at Columbia University for two seasons (1990-91).
The Manchester, N.H., native worked as a Wildcat assistant coach for 14 seasons (1992, 1994-2006), serving one year as the running backs coach in ‘92 before spending the ’93 season as defensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins. Kelly returned to his alma mater in ’94 and worked as RB coach for three seasons (’94-96) before being elevated to offensive line coach for two years (’97-’98). He relinquished his duties as OL coach when he was promoted to offensive coordinator, a post he held for eight years (’99-2006).
Chip Kelly, coach (1992, '94-2006)
The 49-year-old Kelly guided one of the most productive offenses in all of Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) football during his term in Durham. In his final season (’06) at New Hampshire, Kelly’s offense ranked second nationally in scoring offense by averaging 35.3 points/game, tops in the Atlantic 10 (seventh in FCS) in total offense (400.6 yards/game) and second in the A-10 and 15th in the country in passing offense (245.4 yards/game). Junior quarterback Ricky Santos won the Walter Payton Award as the most outstanding player in FCS football, and senior wide receiver David Ball became FCS football’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions by surpassing Jerry Rice’s mark of 50 TD catches Oct. 7, 2006, in a win against Richmond.
In ’05, the Wildcats ranked first in the Atlantic 10 and No. 2 nationally in touchdowns (74), No. 1 in the league in yards/game (493.0) and tops in the A-10 (No. 3 in FCS) in scoring (41.7 points/game). The University, which claimed the nation’s No. 1 ranking for the first time in school history Sept. 26, 2005, en route to the top overall seed in the NCAA playoffs, set a school record with 746 total yards in a win against Maine on Nov. 19.
During the ’04 season, UNH broke 29 school records, averaging 418.8 yards/game and 32.8 points/game. UNH scored over 30 points six times, exceeded 40 points three times, eclipsed 50 points on three occasions and topped 60 points in one contest. The Wildcats earned their first-ever NCAA playoff victory, 27-23, against Georgia Southern on Nov. 27, 2004, jumpstarting the nation’s longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances, which reached nine in a row this past season.
Kelly, the recipient of the 2005 College Assistant Coach of the Year award from the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston, coached several NFL players during his UNH tenure, including Jerry Azumah (Chicago Bears), Jason Ball (San Diego Chargers), Dan Kreider (Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals) and Randal Williams (Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders). He oversaw the offense for All-America players Santos, Ball and tight end Jonathan Williams. Running back Chad Kackert, who played under Kelly for two years, was named the most valuable player of the Grey Cup after leading the Toronto Argonauts to the CFL championship Nov. 25, 2012.
Kelly, a 1981 graduate of Manchester Central High School, left UNH to become the offensive coordinator at Oregon following the ’06 season. After two seasons (’07-08) in that role, Kelly became the Ducks 30th head football coach in March 2009. He led Oregon to the Rose Bowl in his first season, a berth in the BCS National Championship in his second year, a Rose bowl victory in his third year and a 35-17 Fiesta Bowl victory against Kansas State on Jan. 3 in his final game as head coach of the Ducks.
For more information on UNH football, visit www.unhwildcats.com.
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Written by Mike Murphy