After reportedly firing head coach Sonny Dykes, Cal athletic director Michael Williams should make the short half hour drive from Berkeley to San Francisco, where recently fired 49ers head coach Chip Kelly resides.
Between the two teams, Kelly is owed roughly $18 million over the next three years, or around $6 million per season.
Only three coaches make $6 million or more at the college level: Jim Harbaugh ($9 million at Michigan), Nick Saban ($6.9 million at Alabama), and Urban Meyer ($6 million at Ohio State). All three schools are blue bloods, something Cal is not.
However, due to buyouts, Cal would probably pay half of what Kelly is owed, which lines up with Dykes' salary of $2.9 million per year.
In four seasons as head coach of the Ducks from 2009-12, Kelly went 46-7, winning three conference championships and a berth in the 2011 BCS Championship game.
It's known Kelly does not like to recruit and dislikes speaking with boosters, but being in talent-rich California would be a big improvement over Oregon, while the Golden Bears football tradition and expectations do not come close to that of Oregon.
A program that has gone 19-30 under Dykes and 34-52 since 2010, the injection of a proven coach would go a long way in turning the Golden Bears program around.
Still, even with buyout money helping offset any potential contract, after three seasons Cal would be on the hook for whatever Kelly is owed, which could be too rich for a school that is $445 million in debt.
As well, if Kelly has immediate success, the chance of another program, or even the NFL, could come calling and setting the program back.
Additionally, academics could play a big role, as former head coach Jeff Tedford left Dykes with a mess to clean up in the classroom.
If Kelly isn't the guy and Cal would want to go with someone already in the program, offensive coordinator Jake Spavital would be a good option.
Still, a program does not fire a coach this late without a plan already in place.
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