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Florida moving on from Chip Kelly, continues search for new coach

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    San Francisco 49ers coach Chip Kelly speaks at a news conference after the team’s game against the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 1.

Chip Kelly likely will not become the Florida Gators’ next coach, ending a two-week saga that included a meeting this past Sunday in New Hampshire between school officials and the biggest name on the job market.

An Orlando Sentinel source confirmed a report today by Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports that Kelly is out of the picture for the Gators. UF officials could not be reached for comment.

Another source previously said Florida never made a formal offer to Kelly and the Gators were keeping their options open. It appears UF will not wait any longer on Kelly and are moving on to other candidates.

Kelly has been Florida’s presumptive top candidate for more than a week. But things took a dramatic turn Sunday when UCLA fired Jim Mora Jr. and turned its attention to Kelly.

When UF officials returned Sunday night without a deal in place to make Kelly the Gators’ next head coach, the door was open for the Bruins to step in.

The Los Angeles Times reported Kelly met with a contingent of athletics officials from UCLA Tuesday.

While the UCLA does not have UF’s tradition or SEC profile, the Bruins offers Kelly potentially a better fit.

Kelly coached Oregon to three Pac-12 Conference titles and was 46-7 overall during four seasons. Kelly is more familiar with the West Coast recruiting landscape. He also is known to value his privacy and might prefer coaching in Los Angeles, where he would not be the center of attention as he would be in Gainesville.

UCLA also has resources and facilities to challenge UF. The Bruins recently built a $75 million standalone and signed a record $280 million contract with Under Armour in 2016.

UF has won three national titles during the past 21 years, plays in a superior conference with all of its games televised in favorable time slots and is located in a fertile recruiting ground. But lagging facilities are an issue.

UF did not intend to complete, or even present, a contract to Kelly last Sunday, a source close to the process said earlier this week.

A six-person contingent including athletic director Scott Stricklin, school president Kent Fuchs and associate athletic director Lynda Tealer, known as the department’s contract specialist, was next step in the process to replace Jim McElwain, who was let go Oct. 29 after just 34 games at UF.

“There will probably be some more productive conversations in the days ahead,” Stricklin told reporters following his 1,200-mile expedition from Ocala to Portsmouth, N.H.

Those conversations with Kelly are over now and the Gators will move onto their next target, presumably UCF’s Scott Frost. Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen, another possible candidate, said he planned to remain in Starkville following Thursday night’s loss to Ole Miss.

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