Oregon Coach Chip Kelly Stays Course As Furor Builds Around His Team
Kelly might try sticking his fingers in his ears and singing "La, la, la, la, la."
National rankings, BCS title talk, Heisman speculation. They are trees falling in forests all around Eugene.
Kelly won't be there to hear any of it.
Nope, he'll be busy watching film of Washington State, giving the Cougars his full attention.
"We do the exact same thing," Kelly said. "You've got to enjoy (this) or feel bad if it doesn't work out and then you go back to work. We're in the first week of October. A lot of different things can happen and I don't think this team will get sidetracked and start to look ahead. I really hope we don't throw our arms out of the socket patting ourselves on the back, because all we are is 5-0."
But Kelly's team is clearly the class of the Pac-10 after Saturday's 52-31 win over No. 9 Stanford at home. It's hard to imagine anyone in a competitive conference with some very good teams coming close. Because the Ducks look great.
To Kelly, they look like a 5-0 team with a lot of football to play, a team still without true accomplishment.
But he knows what he has in this team with an explosive offense and a swarming, athletic defense. He reminded his team of that at halftime when the Ducks were down 31-24. They were looking at a 21-3 deficit in the first quarter.
"I told them that all they had to do was get caught in the act of being themselves," Kelly said. "That just means go out and do what you do. That was it. I didn't raise my voice. I didn't yell. We knew exactly where we were."
And perhaps where they are headed. But Kelly won't give an inch.
"I know they don't know the ranking because we don't talk about it," Kelly said. "But that's really the next test for us. What happens when everybody is patting you on the back. Do we worry or get caught up? ... So far we haven't let outside influences affect us. We need to continue that.
"When things are going bad, it's easy to get a bunker mentality, but when things are going good, you really still have to have the same mentality."
Kelly is cool. Almost too cool. He speaks softly, is not terribly animated and doesn't answer any question he doesn't want to answer.
He would not agree with the premise, for example, that Saturday's victory was a statement win.
"See, stuff like that is what gets these guys' heads going," Kelly said. "It's not a statement win, it's 5-0 and winning against Stanford. If we talk about statement wins and stuff like that, then we are buying into all that stuff. It's nothing more than we are 5-0. Our goal is to be 1-0 on Saturday night, but that's it."
The man with the new $20.5 million contract extension dictates the message. "Finish." And that has nothing to do with the number before your name.
"I've said it 3,000 times. That's all we talk about," Kelly said. "We've got finish football games and we've got to finish the season."