One of my great professional disappointments is that I never got Chip Kelly to sit down for a "Posting Up" show.
I've had great luck getting just about everyone I've ever wanted to have on that show, from Phil Knight to Mike Riley to Darwin Barney to Charles Barkley to Roddy Piper. Kelly? Asked him several times, even on camera, and each time he said he'd be happy to do the show. Promised he'd do the show. But when it came time to schedule it, there was never any real chance. Frustrated, I tried recently one last time, knowing his tenure in Eugene was growing short.
Someone within the UO athletic department finally took me aside.
"He watches the show and he likes it," I was told. "But he's not going to ever do it. There's just a lot that he doesn't want to talk about. He won't do it. He's very private. There's a lot we don't even know..."
Indeed, Kelly is one of the most private people with a public job I've ever run across. He didn't share a lot about his past or his personal life and answered questions reluctantly. "I'm a private person," he said recently -- and that was an understatement. He built a monstrous house in Eugene that is said to include a full indoor basketball court but I haven't seen any photos of that. He doesn't talk about it. He remains close to some childhood pals from New Hampshire but they keep to themselves. While his assistant coaches profess to like him and loved working for him, they didn't seem to know a lot about his personal life or his past, either.
The automatic response to a thirst for privacy in today's crazy world is that someone is hiding something. You know, "The Big Secret." It's only natural with public figures that we want to know more about them, if only to understand what shapes them. Do I think some sort of secret exists? Maybe. Maybe not. I kind of doubt it, actually, but in this era of Manti Te'o and Tiger Woods, can you blame people for being suspicious even about their heroes? If there is anything out there, going to the National Football League is likely to lead to its unveiling. Coaching the Philadelphia Eagles is much more public than running the Oregon Ducks. And it's going to lead to much more exposure than he's used to, for sure.
Is there a "Big Secret?" I have no idea and if there is, I'd not have a clue what it could be. If there is something, will it ever come out? Not sure, but I do believe more people now will be searching for it than ever before.
And let me add this, too -- I ended up liking Chip Kelly. I couldn't help myself. He's got a charisma and charm that's irresistible. I think his love for his players was real and his affection for the University of Oregon genuine. I wish him nothing but the best.