OCALA, Fla. — As social media buzzed about a chartered plane booked for a return flight from Portsmouth, N.H., to Ocala on Sunday night, about 10 Florida football fans and a few reporters lined up outside of a small airstrip to see if Chip Kelly was indeed on the plane.
Kelly, the former Oregon and NFL head coach rumored and reported to be the Gators’ top target for their coaching vacancy, was not part of the six-person travel party, but all of the major figures who would be involved in vetting and talking with a prospective hire deep into the process were present.
That included athletic director Scott Stricklin, President Kent Fuchs, executive associate AD for external affairs Mike Hill, executive associate AD for internal affairs Laird Veatch, executive associate AD for administration Lynda Tealer and senior associate AD for communications Steve McClain.
Stricklin took questions before leaving the airport, but he wouldn’t confirm whether or not the group met with Kelly, who lives in New Hampshire, or where the process stands. The same plane left from Ocala at 1:45 p.m. Sunday and got into Portsmouth at 4:21.
According to online records, the return flight left Portsmouth at 7:45 p.m. and landed shortly before 11 p.m. in Ocala.
“We continue to have a lot of productive conversations,” Stricklin repeated in a few variations to different questions.
— Ryan Young (@RyanYoungSEC) November 20, 2017
Asked if he had a clearer timeline in mind for making a hire, Stricklin said: “There will probably be some more productive conversations in the days ahead. … Lot of interest in the job.”