Oregon's Kelly reportedly leaving for the NFL's Bucs

Could the champion of the Pac-12 this past season be on the verge of losing its innovative head coach?

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times has confirmed an earlier report by Michael Berk of KGW in Portland that Oregon's Chip Kelly is finalizing a deal to become the new Tampa Bay Bucs head coach.

Stroud wrote on Twitter that Kelly and the Bucs are in negotiations for a deal that they hope will result in an agreement in the next 24 to 48 hours. The Ducks head coach met with Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik and members of owner Malcolm Glazer's family this past week.

While it's certainly not out of the ordinary for successful college head coaches to desire the challenges of the NFL, Kelly is finally getting to utilize his own recruits in Eugene, and he has a roster and scheme built for sustained success. Waiting to make the jump would seem to be a logical option. But perhaps the Bucs are putting together an offer that's difficult to pass up. Or, for the cynical perspective, maybe Kelly is aware of potential NCAA fallout from the Willie Lyles investigation.

If Kelly does leave Eugene, it has been speculated that Chris Petersen would consider making the move from Boise State -- with the Ducks' job perhaps being the only one that would make him leave the Broncos. Petersen was an Oregon assistant for five years before arriving in Boise. However, we know how hard it's been for any program to get Petersen to leave Boise up to this point.

Because it's so close to National Signing Day, one in-house, stop-gap candidate to replace Kelly if he indeed leaves is Mark Helfrich, the Ducks' offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He is a rising head-coaching candidate and was an assistant at Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado before arriving in Eugene. But would the Ducks hand the keys over to a first-time head coach?

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

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