Florida is “moving on” from former Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and likely to focus on UCF head coach Scott Frost as its next coach in its coaching search, Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde reports, citing “multiple sources.”
Florida administrators met with Kelly on Sunday in New Hampshire and remained in contact with him earlier this week, but no deal was forthcoming between the two. Florida had kept its options open while engaged with Kelly and is now prepared to pursue those other candidates.
With Kelly out of the picture, the Gators likely will focus on Central Florida coach Scott Frost. All along, the second-year coach of the Knights has been on Florida’s radar and was considered within the industry to be the most likely successor to Jim McElwain in Gainesville.
Forde is the first national writer to report something about Kelly’s status since Thanksgiving.
The Gators’ very public pursuit of Kelly over the past week peaked with a much-discussed flight to New Hampshire last Sunday that included Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin and University of Florida president Dr. Kent Fuchs and occasioned a number of unsourced reports that Kelly had signed a contract with or chosen Florida. If Forde’s report proves true, Florida not ending up with Kelly from its spin on this year’s coaching carousel will be widely seen by fans as a failure — especially if Kelly opts to go to UCLA instead of coming to Gainesville, leading to a perception that UCLA beat out Florida for Kelly’s services.
Frost, though, was one of the candidates I singled out as a great fit for Florida at the outset of its coaching search — in a post written way back in October — and, despite taking a back seat to Kelly in the minds of most fans and in public perception, has consistently been linked to Florida throughout the Gators’ search.
His unbeaten UCF Knights take on USF in the so-called War on I-4 Friday afternoon — a game that, improbably, is airing nationally on ABC. If the Knights win, they will have an American Athletic Conference Championship Game to prepare for next weekend, and could keep a faint hope of sneaking into the College Football Playoff alive.
But if they lose, their regular season would be over, and their Playoff dream dashed — and Florida could well begin negotiating in earnest with Frost or his representatives.