The Chip Kelly to Florida talk appears to be heating up.
The Gators sent a group to New Hampshire on Sunday to talk with the former Oregon coach about its head coaching vacancy. The Buddy Martin Show first reported the meeting, which the Tampa Bay Times confirmed.
"There will probably be some more productive conversations in the days ahead…" athletic director Scott Stricklin told SEC Country at the Ocala airport last night. "Lot of interest in the job."
UF is trying to replace Jim McElwain, whose 2 1/2-season tenure ended in October. UF called his departure a mutual decision that went beyond a 3-4 start and the inability to contend with Alabama or rival Florida State.
Kelly helped make Oregon a powerhouse. In four seasons from 2009-12, his Ducks went 46-7 with four trips to BCS bowl games. That includes a 22-19 loss to Auburn for the 2010 national title.
The 53-year-old New Hampshire native is regarded as one of the sharpest offensive minds in football – a key point for a program that has been starving for points since Tim Tebow left for the 2010 NFL draft. Kelly's Ducks averaged at least 36 points every season and finished at least eighth nationally in scoring each year.
His Oregon tenure also had some controversy. He received an 18-month show-cause penalty from the NCAA for recruiting violations. That penalty has since expired, although Kelly's background would require a conversation between UF and SEC commissioner Greg Sankey under new conference legislation.
This isn't the first time Kelly has been connected to a job in the state. He was finalizing a deal with the Bucs in January 2012 but decided to stay in Eugene for another season.
After that, he bolted for the NFL, where he had unsuccessful stints leading the Eagles and 49ers. His 28-35 NFL record includes a playoff appearance in 2013 for Philadelphia and last year's 2-14 disaster in San Francisco.
Kelly has spent this season as an ESPN analyst.
"I really enjoy what I'm doing now," Kelly said on ESPN yesterday, when asked about the rumors. "I think Florida is an outstanding program and has had so much success there with Urban (Meyer), Steve Spurrier. I think whoever gets that job will be really lucky."