Thats the sound of the air escaping my gut as the news of Chip Kelly's departure to Philadelphia struck me below the belt this morning.
As people react with surprise around me, I find myself not surprised this happened. I am kinda hurt and feel a bit sick to my stomach as I write this, because Chip Kelly did more than make the Ducks winners.
He evolved the game of football.
He also did something I have never seen in sports.
He unified the team to the common goal in a way that I may never see again.
When Byron Hout decked LaGarrett Blount after Kelly's first game, the Ducks locked arms and ignored the outside world and went 46-6 from that day forward. They cut down some mighty big giants between then and now and they did it like Leonidis was leading them.
In fact, I was told once that before the 300 went out to defend Sparta, they watched an Oregon Duck pre-game video from Autzen Stadium.
Now, I have been telling my friends that Chip didn't go to the NFL because at that level, it seems former players become the best coaches and more college coaches who make the jump end up back at college.
At Oregon, Chip can be the dictator. In the NFL, he has to be a peer.
I'm not sure he will succeed in Philly. He might even get a second stop in The League if they boo him out of Veterans Stadium.
But here is one guarantee. Chip Kelly will always always be a football coach. Unlike a player who comes out early and risks being ignored by the NFL (like THAT would ever happen) Chip Kelly CAN go back to college football if it doesn't work out.
Now for all of you who just cannot believe that Chip Kelly flipped (thanks JYoung) here is a little dream sequence for you. Lets pretend this is Wayne's World and right now, Wayne and Garth do that thing with their hands and send us to a dream sequence...dudleduhduh dudleduhduh dudleduhduh
Chip Kelly: "Honey, I am sorry. Its true, I spent the weekend with a beautiful woman from Cleveland after my game in Phoenix. But I am OVER her. I mean, she is HISTORY. Its out of my system. Totally."
Hopelessly Devoted Fanbase: "Oh, okay dear. I believe you. There for a second I was really worried, because she WAS pretty."
CK: "Yeah...and rich."
HDF: "Uh, right. Rich, too. But sweetheart, just so I can sleep tonight tell me if it is true what they said. You spent twelve hours together - and there were two other women there, too? Tell me that was all a lie."
CK: "Well...actually, after the first one, I stayed over and met with another one. She was pretty and rich, too. But the rumor about a third is wrong. Just a lie. She bailed when she realized I was too...busy...with the other two. But never at the same time, honey. I have my standards. Anyway, I am home now and I am OVER all of that. I am yours. Forever."
HDF: "I know, thats what your boss said when he called. But what happens next time you go on the road? Will you be tempted again?"
CK: "Funny you should put it that way. Because even though I just said all these nice things to you, I got a phone call this morning and the pretty, rich woman from Philadelphia just made me an offer I can't refuse."
HDF: "What!? NO!"
CK: "Baby, I HAVE to go. Don't cry...I still love you. We built such a nice world together. Please don't hate me."
Look, everyone. Its sports. Loyalty is ALWAYS about the money. Don't believe anything else. Its a business. It IS about the money. Fans are fans because they don't believe that. They think they have a connection with their players and coaches and administrators. News Flash: THERE ISNT ONE.
Just sit back and watch the drama, enjoy the tailgating, revel in the wins, suffer through the losses but always remember that this is a business. Its big business.
Luckily Mark Helfrich is next. He understands the offense. He will run the blur and Oregon will resemble what they are right now. The challenge is this: keep the talent and the skills and the thrills as exciting as the persona, reputation and uniforms have become.
It IS possible the change at head coach is followed by a letdown on the field, but if you really do love your Ducks, it won't matter who walks the sidelines at Autzen.
Oh, and Chip? The Philly media won't be as willing as we were to play along with the word games and the explanations that you gave to probing questions. You know that. You probably can't wait for the upgrade in that area too. The difference is this: the Philadelphia media's bite is much worse than it is in Oregon.