Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
The Oregon Ducks might be preparing for the end of an era on Thursday night in Glendale.
What figures to be a pretty exciting matchup in Glendale also could be the end of an era in Eugene.
The Chip Kelly circus has been running non-stop shows since the conclusion of the regular seasons. That circus has no intention of closing the curtain until the Oregon head coach makes a decision about where he wants to end up.
Oregon has ruled the Pac-12 for most of Kelly's stead, Stanford hiccup aside. The Ducks have rolled competitors off the field 30-45 minutes into the game, and have spent most of their fourth quarters joking and prepping for next week. The team hasn't been turning out amazing NFL talent either, but the system has produced three straight conference championships and unspeakable buzz in Eugene.
Kelly and Oregon have had a good run. But it seems like he's accomplished practically everything he's wanted to do on this level. There are no more credentials left to establish other than winning a national championship (which he came very close to doing once and nearly qualified two other times), which might not happen soon enough for Chip's convenience if Oregon gets punished.
Speaking of which, there's also the concern of the ongoing and interminable NCAA investigation. No one knows if this team will be eligible for titles regardless of the system. There's a lot of uncertainty facing this program this offseason. Anything could happen and no one really knows what the status of Oregon's program will be a few weeks from now.
Oregon will be taking a nod to the past in their matchup tonight with K-state. The Ducks face a Wildcats team that very much loves to run as well, although they tend to be a bit more traditional in the looks they flash. Both teams figure to display the offensive edge of college football, and how well teams can execute fireworks.
It's not like things will end with Kelly's departure. Mark Helfrich is keeping the system in place and Oregon is set to keep on rolling with the offense they have in place. And the Ducks are stacked with talent; just like David Shaw at Stanford, Helfrich could have Oregon replicating the results of a more heralded successor in no time.
Oregon has plenty of offensive weaponry at their disposal. Kenjon Barner leaves, but De'Anthony Thomas still remains an insanely dynamic threat and Oregon have plenty of options to step in to replace him as the feature back alongside Marcus Mariota.
Regardless, tonight's Fiesta Bowl will be full of intrigue, and for once with Oregon, it doesn't all have to do with what's happening on the field.