Mike Bellotti, who has guided the University of Oregon football program to unprecedented success in his 14 seasons as the school’s head coach, will relinquish his duties to become the Ducks’ director of athletics beginning July 1, according to an announcement Friday by University President Dave Frohnmayer.
The school’s winningest football coach of all time (116-55) will replace Pat Kilkenny as head of the University’s athletics department at the beginning of Oregon’s next academic year as part of a succession plan previously announced on Dec. 2. Until that time, Bellotti will assume the title of senior counselor to Kilkenny, who was named to the department’s top post on Feb. 14, 2007.
Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly will become the Ducks’ 30th head football coach in school history and only the third in the last 33 years when he officially takes over the reins of the program on March 30, which will mark Oregon’s first day of spring practice.
The 58-year-old Bellotti has navigated the university’s football program through its most successful era in school history, leading the Ducks to 12 bowl games in his 14 years at the helm while tallying eight or more wins in a single season nine times. Included was a single-season best 11 victories in 2001, capped by a 38-16 Fiesta Bowl win over Colorado and finishing the year ranked second in the country.
He became the first coach to lead Oregon to 10 victories in 2000 – a feat he would duplicate on three other occasions, including a 10-3 record and a 42-31 win over Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl in 2008.
His teams finished the season ranked among the nation’s top-25 six times in the past 10 years and in the top-10 on three occasions since 2000, including this past season when Oregon closed the year ranked ninth in the country in the final USA Today coaches poll and 10th by The Associated Press.
Since first becoming a part of the Oregon coaching staff as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Rich Brooks in 1989, the 36-year coaching veteran has been instrumental in assembling close to 28 percent of the school’s all-time victories (155 of 558).
Bellotti steps aside as the third-winningest football coach in the history of the Pacific-10 Conference in regards to league wins (72-43) – trailing only UCLA’s Terry Donahue (98-51-5, 1976-95) and Washington’s Don James (97-38-2, 1975-92) – and is 16th in all-time conference winning percentage (62.6%).
Kelly, 45, has engineered a dynamic offensive attack the past two seasons that has resulted in establishing school records in scoring, rushing yards and total offense in each of the last two years. The Ducks capped 2008 ranked second in the country in rushing (280.1-yard avg.), and seventh nationally in both total offense (484.9-yard avg.) and scoring (41.9 avg.).
Since joining the Ducks in 2007 following eight seasons as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of New Hampshire, Kelly has masterminded an offense that has accounted for 50 points or more in 10 games. His offensive attacks have been responsible for establishing no fewer than 24 school records during his brief Oregon tenure.
While the Oregon quarterbacks coach first grabbed the nation’s attention by molding an inconsistent Dennis Dixon into a Heisman Trophy contender in 2007, he expanded his persona by developing untested quarterbacks following Dixon’s season-ending injury as well as creating a system conducive to breeding confidence among his players. His ability to prepare Justin Roper for success in Oregon’s 56-21 Sun Bowl win over South Florida in 2007 was nothing short of amazing, while his role that led to the progression of newcomer Jeremiah Masoli was vital in the Ducks winning six of their last seven games a year ago.
The 19-year collegiate assistant coach earned his reputation as one of the nation’s most innovative offensive technicians at the Football Championship Subdivision level (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) as he was named the College Assistant Coach of the Year by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston following the 2005 season. In addition, he was selected as “one of college football’s hottest coaches” by American Football Monthly.
Coordinating offenses at New Hampshire, his teams averaged better than 400 yards of total offense in seven of eight seasons. In 2005, his offense finished second nationally in total offense (493.5 avg.), third in scoring (41.7 avg.) and fifth in passing (300.1 avg.), while the school recorded an 11-2 mark. The following year, quarterback Ricky Santos was the recipient of the Walter Payton Award as the Division I-AA’s best offensive player.
The Manchester, N.H., native and 13-year New Hampshire coaching veteran was elevated to offensive coordinator following two seasons as the Wildcats’ offensive line coach (1997-98) and three years coaching the school’s running backs (1994-96).
The 1990 physical education major returned to his alma mater following a one-year stint as defensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins University (1993).
He broke into the coaching ranks in 1990 at Columbia University before beginning his initial coaching stint as New Hampshire’s running backs coach in 1992.