Here we go.
Yesterday, I published an in-depth article confirming what Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel hinted at: that Florida was investigating Chip Kelly in regards to whether or not to hire him as the new head coach for the Gators’ proud but floundering football team. In that article, I made multiple references to the old adage of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” The idea is that when you hear enough rumors of substantial quality from people who typically know the business that they’re discussing- agents, sportswriters, lawyers, etc.- there’s probably something to them. That something may not ultimately be the end goal everybody refreshing message boards and twitter for the latest tidbits is looking for, but at the very least, it typically means that there was at least some truth to the rumors- if on a very elementary level.
That smoke first came from Houston radio host (and UF grad) Marc Ryan, before Florida-based lawyer Darren Heitner added to them. But now, the smoke has suddenly billowed over the top of the horizon.
First and foremost: my sources have confirmed that Florida has successfully completed its vetting process of Chip Kelly, and have moved onto the next stage of pursuing him.
The SEC has a rule that forces coaches with previous NCAA issues, however minor, to clear another hurdle before even being considered as a potential head coach in the SEC. That hurdle is a direct phone call with the University president to commissioner Greg Sankey. And Heitner- who also first broke the news that Florida was negotiating Jim McElwain’s buyout- indicated on the radio this morning that that hurdle has been bypassed.
On WJOX 94.5 FM this morning, Heitner stated:
“According to one source I’ve spoken to this morning, there has at least been some sort of verbal commitment that there won’t be an issue. Based on that, if that one source is correct, again, we could see this become very fast-moving.”
Which he then bolstered with a tweet:
I’m now hearing that SEC commissioner has chosen to not stand in way of Florida hiring Chip Kelly if he is the school’s selection. Reporting with @biggamejames36.
— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) November 14, 2017
That’s all well and good, but that’s one source.
Until there were two:
Source: Gator Reps are headed too talk with Chip Kelly. Things are picking up on the @SEC coaching searches.
— Trey Wallace (@TreyWallace_) November 14, 2017
On a whim, I then decided to check out FlightAware website just to see the activity of Gainesville Regional Airport. And what do you know? There’s a flight that just took off from Gainesville headed for Hartford County, Connecticut- and the listed destination of Bradley International Airport is approximately 45 minutes away from ESPN’s studios in Bristol, Connecticut. Where Chip Kelly currently works as an analyst.
Something tells me that this is the plane is full of the “Gator reps” Wallace was talking about, on its way up to meet with and speak to Kelly. Or it could just be a group of rich Gainesville natives wanting to tour the beautiful rocky beaches of the Long Island Sound and experience the balmy 40 degree weather New England has to offer in mid-November. It’s got to be one of those two, right?
Jokes aside, there certainly is a lot of smoke now. Nothing has been confirmed. No contract has been signed or even agreed to in principle. We still don’t know if Kelly even wants to coach Florida, remember, as his heart may remain locked on a third shot in the NFL. But if the rumors flying around are any indication, and there is indeed a fire behind this smoke, there could be something finalized by tomorrow.