When Chip Kelly enters Autzen stadium prior to kickoff on Saturday, it won’t be from where he’s must accustom too.
Instead of running out behind the Ducks mascot, who’s on the back of a motorcycle, to 50,000 screaming fans, Kelly will instead enter the confines of Autzen from the east entrance as UCLA’s head coach. It’ll be a strange view for Kelly, one he never expected to see when he took over as head coach at Oregon in 2009.
From 2009-2012, Oregon was arguably the most successful college football program in the nation not named Alabama. The Ducks finished 46-7 in those four years, going to BCS bowl games in all of them, including the national championship in 2010.
Here’s a breakdown of Oregon under Kelly’s four-year tutelage.
2009: Kelly’s first year didn’t get off to the best of starts when Oregon traveled to Boise State for an opening-season 19-8 loss. Making matters worse, running back LeGarette Blount was seen on national television punching a Boise State player, causing him to be suspended by Kelly.
But the Ducks rebounded with seven consecutive wins, three of which came against top-25 opponents. Oregon’s 42-3 beatdown of No. 6 Cal showed the Ducks were a good team but it was their 47-20 victory over No. 5 USC that made the Ducks legitimate contenders. Despite a slipup to Stanford, Oregon beat No. 16 Oregon State in the Civil War, giving the Ducks the Pac-10 championship and Kelly his first Pac-10 coach of the year award.
The Ducks lost to No. 8 Ohio State 26-17 in the Rose Bowl, finishing the season No. 11 in the AP Poll.
2010: With returning starting quarterback Jeremiah Masoli suspended (and later dismissed), the Ducks started Darron Thomas at quarterback. He promptly led the Ducks to a 3-0 start, including 72-0 and 69-0 victories in two of the first three games.
The Ducks ran through the Pac-10, going 9-0 and averaging 49.3 points and 537.5 yards per game. They finished the regular season No. 2 in the BCS rankings, setting up a showdown with Cam Newton and No. 1 Auburn for the national championship.
Oregon ended up losing 22-19 on a last second field goal, a kick that was set up by a controversial play where any true Oregon fan will say “Dyer was down.” The Ducks finished No. 3 in the national rankings as Kelly was not only the Pac-10 coach of the year, but the AP coach of the year. Running back LaMichael James was also the Doak Walker award winner, giving annually to the nation’s best running back.
2011: Oregon finally started a season without suspension, but it wasn’t all roses. A season-opening 40-27 loss to No. 4 LSU in Texas in which the Ducks turned the ball over four times.
Not to be deterred, Oregon rattled off nine consecutive wins before a missed field goal late in the game led to a 38-35 loss to USC. The Ducks rebounded with two straight wins, including a 49-31 in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game over UCLA.
Kelly finally got over his postseason woes when Oregon defeated Russell Wilson and No. 10 Wisconsin 45-38 in the Rose Bowl. An instant classic, Oregon racked up a Rose Bowl record 621 yards of total offense before a defensive-stand on the game’s final drive ended it. The Ducks finished the season ranked No. 4.
2012: Kelly’s final season saw the birth of Oregon legend Marcus Mariota at quarterback. When James and Thomas both decided to forego their senior seasons, it came as no surprise for James but much for Thomas. Then Mariota took over the Ducks offense it was very apparent as to why Thomas left because Kelly had developed Mariota into a stud, a player who would win the Heisman two years later.
Oregon began the season 10-0 before a 17-14 overtime loss to No. 13 Stanford ended the Ducks’ hopes of a national championship. Adding to Oregon’s field goal problems from the previous year (USC loss), the Ducks missed two field goals that would’ve won them the game.
But, a 48-24 victory over No. 15 Oregon State sent the Ducks to the Fiesta Bowl with a matchup against No. 5 Kansas State. De’Anthony Thomas took the opening kick back for a touchdown as Oregon cruised to a 35-17 win, finishing No. 2 in the nation.