In this Jan. 3, 2013 file photo, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly celebrates with his players after the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game against Kansas State, in Glendale, Ariz. The Philadelphia Eagles have hired Kelly after he originally chose to stay at Oregon. Kelly becomes the 21st coach in team history and replaces Andy Reid, who was fired on Dec. 31 after a 4-12 season. / Ross Franklin, AP
Chip Kelly really did turn down the Philadelphia Eagles the first time. And as USA TODAY Sports reported Wednesday, he did have a "change of heart" within the past 24 hours.
But the path that led Kelly back to the Eagles, who hired him as their new head coach on Wednesday, wound for a little more than a week, according to a person briefed on the talks between the sides.
The person, who requested anonymity because neither the team nor Kelly's camp has released details of the talks, said Kelly first let the Eagles know he was having second thoughts about his decision to return to Oregon last Tuesday.
It was right around that time the Eagles were talking to another Kelly â?? Brian Kelly of Notre Dame, who eventually told them he was returning to school as well.
In fact, it was during a coaches' convention in Nashville, where they were meeting with Brian Kelly, that general manager Howie Roseman heard Chip Kelly was having those second thoughts, per the person briefed on the talks.
Chip Kelly's interest seemed lukewarm at the time and didn't really heat up until Tuesday. The Eagles came to an agreement with Chip Kelly on Wednesday morning -- after meeting with Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Monday afternoon and evening.
Bradley, the person briefed on the talks said, would have received an offer from the team if Kelly hadn't jumped back into the running. He impressed the Eagles during negotiations and is now in Jacksonville attempting to do the same with the Jaguars.
The Eagles' hiring the 49-year-old Kelly, who was 46-7 in four seasons with the Ducks, was doubly shocking for a team that apparently was skeptical they could lure him away from the college ranks the first time around.
"There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job," the Eagles said in a statement after both Kellys and Penn State's Bill O'Brien turned them down. "We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts."
But the Eagles remained patient, which benefited them in the end. The Cleveland Browns saw Kelly's initial indecision as a sign he wasn't interested in them or the NFL. They then restarted the search and wound up with the Carolina Panthers' Rob Chudzinski.
Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie, however, kept Kelly in their sights as they spoke with other candidates, such as former NFL head coaches Brian Billick, Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt. Their thorough search, which led to much scrutiny in Philadelphia and on a national level, proved to be a wise move because it allowed Kelly to finally come around.
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