(Reuters) - The Philadelphia Eagles have hired former University of Oregon head coach Chip Kelly as their new boss, the National Football League (NFL) team said on Wednesday.
The 49-year-old replaces Andy Reid, who was fired last month after 14 seasons with the Eagles and subsequently named head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Kelly was one of the most sought after college coaches in recent years and his move to the NFL, for the first time in his career, came as a surprise since he recently indicated he would stay in the college game.
“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,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement.
Kelly met with Lurie, Eagles president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman for almost nine hours shortly after Oregon won the Fiesta Bowl on January 3.
“The conversations continued until Kelly decided he wanted to remain at the University of Oregon. Still, Kelly continued to evaluate the opportunity to work for the Eagles in the NFL,” the Eagles said in a statement.”
Kelly has never played or coached at any level in the NFL but his Oregon team had an outstanding 46-7 record during his four-year stint as head coach and played in the national championship game two years ago.
The New Hampshire native also interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills in recent weeks and turned down a chance to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago.
The Eagles are coming off a last place finish in the NFC East division with a 4-12 record and their sputtering offense, which finished with the fourth-lowest point total this season, is likely to be Kelly’s priority.
The coach’s reputation with Oregon was based on a high-speed offense but he will need to discover whether quarterback Michael Vick will be with the team next season.
Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by Frank Pingue