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Chip Kelly signs deal to coach Eagles

1:12 PM, Jan 16, 2013   |    comments
Photo of Chip Kelly by Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images.
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PHILADELPHIA -- This one was tougher to see coming than a read option.

Chip Kelly, the Oregon coach who turned down the Philadelphia Eagles to return to the college ranks a few weeks ago, has reconsidered.

The Eagles announced Wednesday that Kelly will be their new head coach. A person, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because the deal is not yet finalized and signed, said Kelly had a "change of heart" Tuesday night about turning down Philadelphia before but did not specify a reason.

"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," team owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team."

This will be Kelly's first head coaching job in the NFL.

USA TODAY Sports' George Schroeder reported earlier this month that if Kelly jumped to the NFL, Ducks offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich would replace him.

The Eagles interviewed Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Tuesday. Bradley is headed to Jacksonville today to meet with the Jaguars.

Kelly was 46-7 in four seasons with the Ducks. He entertained interest from the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Eagles after defeating Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl. But Kelly snubbed all three teams to return to Eugene.

Or so it seemed.

After the Browns and Bills hired head coaches, the Eagles were left to go through their list of backup options. They had also made a run at Penn State's Bill O'Brien and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly. Lurie had publicly stated his interest in college coaches because they're innovative and ahead of the curve.

But without O'Brien and the two Kellys, Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman were left to go through a list of former head coaches (Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt and Brian Billick) as well as coordinators such as Bradley.

The perception was the Eagles didn't have a clear direction in their search after that unsuccessful first wave. However, those concerns have been squashed.

Whether Kelly is successful or not, the Eagles targeted their man and, much as it took a while and a few changes of direction, they got him.

Mike Garafolo, USA TODAY Sports

Gannett/USA Today

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