The San Diego Chargers are notoriously cheap when it comes to hiring head coaches. Case in point: The remaining two years left on Chip Kelly's contract, which he'll be paid despite not working for the employer paying him, will pay him more than Mike McCoy's entire four-year contract with the Chargers.
There are not many situations that arise that would allow for the Chargers to have a top-line head coach inside of their diminished budget. This is one of them.
Chip Kelly Can Coach
Let's go through the numbers first.
Kelly's college football record: 46-7
Oregon's final AP ranking: 11, 3, 4, 2
That is four seasons of near perfection. The 2008 team went 10-3 in the year before Kelly took over. In the next four years, they lost 3 games just once. In a very short amount of time, Chip Kelly cemented himself as a master of the college football game.
Kelly's pro football record: 26-21
Chip Kelly took over a team that went 4-12 in 2012 before he got there. In the next two seasons, he led the team to records of 10-6 and 10-6 with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez as the team's QBs. (Author's Note: The notion that Kelly needs a mobile QB to win should go out the window with the last sentence.)
Kelly was viewed as a genius. The thought was that he was building a powerhouse in Philadelphia. His .600 winning percentage was higher than any Chargers coach in history, even if you don't include Mike McCoy's third season in San Diego.
What Went Wrong
Chip Kelly made a power-play. He demanded more control over the front office. He demanded a Bill Belichick-like position with the team. If he was a genius, he deserved to be treated as one.
He traded Nick Foles for Sam Bradford, signed two starting RBs for big money, traded away his star RB for a LB coming off a major injury, and generally built a screwy-looking roster.
It ended up costing him his job. DeMarco Murray has underperformed, Sam Bradford hasn't gotten any better than the disappointing player he was in St. Louis, and Kiko Alonso has not been the same player that nearly won Rookie of the Year. Chip Kelly bet the farm, and lost.
Why He Fits with San Diego
If you're a believer, as I am, that the Chargers' top candidate before yesterday should've been Hue Jackson, you have no reason to question Chip Kelly.
Hue Jackson did almost the exact same thing Kelly did, with the power-play (trading for Carson Palmer) that eventually cost him his job when the team lost 4 of their last 5 games. It also ended up costing him his job after one year as the Oakland Raiders' head coach.
The equation for both guys is pretty simple. They obviously have the tools to be a good head coach, they just need to give up front office powers to a capable GM to build the roster.
In San Diego, Tom Telesco isn't going anywhere. While he has had his missteps along the way, he's done enough good to convince you that he could grow into being a very good GM. Bringing in Kelly, or Jackson, to run the coaching side of things could easily end up with the team in the playoffs.
Kelly eat, breathes, and sleeps football. Contrary to Mike McCoy, he is always looking for advantages and ways to give his team more chances to win. He actually does look for ways to fit his system to the players he has, rather than the other way around.
And then we come back to the money. It's the thing that makes him a better option than Hue Jackson right now. Kelly could sign a contract that pays him next to nothing in the first two seasons, and prove once more to the league that he's one football's brightest minds. Whether the team is in San Diego or Los Angeles, that's something that the Chargers should be pursuing.