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One of the questions about rumored Florida coaching candidate Chip Kelly is whether he'd want to make a quick return to the NFL.

Thoughts on Chip Kelly’s recruiting comments and whether he’d jump to NFL if he gets Florida job

Ryan Young

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Florida has a football game Saturday in The Swamp, but it’s hard to drum up any interest in a Gators-UAB discussion at this point.

The ongoing coaching search dominates fan interest, understandably.

There is nothing tangible to report on the Chip Kelly-to-Florida rumors, but there are plenty of questions and angles when evaluating how he would fit in Gainesville.

Two of the more common topics center around his interest in returning to the NFL and how interested he’d actually be in recruiting if he takes a college job (at Florida or elsewhere).

As Chip Kelly Watch 2017 continues, let’s tackle those points in the latest Gators Mailbag Question of the Day.

Brandon F. asks … “Do you guys think Chip Kelly would use Florida to rebuild his name and then bolt back to the NFL?”

There have been reports since Kelly was fired by the San Francisco 49ers after last season that he preferred to remain in the NFL rather than return to college.

I have consistently listed that potential interest, that Kelly might want to prove himself at that level, as the top con along with all the pros of a Kelly-Florida pairing. But how significant would that risk actually be?

As this Washington Post story noted, Kelly interviewed for the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching job and was mentioned as a possible fit for the Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator gig after his dismissal from the 49ers.

Neither came to fruition, and as the Post’s Mark Maske summarized, it’s not clear whether there will be enough interest from NFL teams to give him another shot in the league.

From Maske’s piece last February: “Kelly remains a polarizing figure within the league. In informal recent conversations with front office executives from several teams, there was a mix of opinions. Some continue to regard Kelly as a bright offensive mind with innovative ideas who brought about his own downfall in Philadelphia by being granted too much power over shaping the roster, then landed in an impossible and dysfunctional situation in San Francisco that resulted in a too-quick firing. Others now dismiss him as a two-time NFL failure who would be wise to return to college coaching.”

That may be a more significant point than whether Kelly would prefer to jump back to the NFL. He would have to get an opportunity to do so, and if it didn’t come last offseason when there were plenty of jobs available, then it’s not clear how proving himself again at the college level (where he’s already an established success) would change minds in the NFL.

It would seem that Kelly’s most realistic path to another NFL head-coaching job would be to prove himself as an NFL offensive coordinator, and if that’s what he is set on he should want to wait through another offseason to see if that opportunity comes.

Nobody reporting on this coaching search has any direct knowledge of the inner workings of Kelly’s thought process (or Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin’s, for that matter), so we can only speculate and apply logic and reason to the situation.

It seems that if Kelly is willing to accept a job in the college ranks — especially one at a premier program such as Florida — that he’d be in it for a significant tenure.

The other offshoot questions that come with this are the comments Kelly made while in the NFL about how he enjoyed that coaching lifestyle in contrast to the recruiting demands of coaching in college.

“My schedule, the day the season was over, was a lot worse than my schedule here because you’re planes, trains and automobiles recruiting from Sunday night until Friday afternoon and hustling back and practicing, getting a practice in Friday afternoon, practice Saturday, practice Sunday, get back on a plane and fly around the country chasing down recruits,” he told PhillyMag.com in 2013.

Kelly made similar comments in 2014, and fans have taken that to mean that Kelly “hates” recruiting.

I think it means he enjoyed being able to focus simply on coaching at the NFL level and I would presume there are a lot of coaches who would prefer to spend their time that way and not have to chase the whims of 17-year-old prospects. Yet they still do it because it’s essential to the job.

If Kelly comes back to college football, at Florida or elsewhere, he knows he has to recruit to win. And if he comes back, rest assured, he’s coming to win.

Read more answers about the Florida Gators here.