THE EAGLES' head-coaching search committee has one less candidate to worry about.
The Eagles have been told that Chip Kelly is staying at Oregon, a source confirmed to the Daily News late Sunday night.
Kelly was intrigued by the job but decided he wasn't comfortable leaving college, sources told ESPN.
The Eagles' brass returned home after weekend interviews with Kelly in Arizona and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Denver.
On tap are as-yet-unscheduled interviews this week with Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who spent Sunday in a Baltimore hospital after what Colts officials said they thought was a reaction to medication, and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who might have won the hearts of Eagles fans by regrouping his defense and shutting down the Redskins on Sunday with impressive ferocity, after giving up two quick touchdowns. (Of course, it might have helped that Robert Griffin III was playing on one leg.)
The Eagles asked for permission to talk to Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, but had not heard back from Cincinnati as of Sunday evening. Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who scheduled an interview with the Eagles while they were in Arizona, apparently will be introduced as the Buffalo coach Monday.
The twists in the Kelly story have been either fascinating or highly annoying, depending on how patient you are. When the NFL job fair opened last week, Kelly was the hot name, a 49-year-old offensive innovator whose ideas were trickling into the league even as he coached the Ducks to a 12-1 season, including a Fiesta Bowl victory Thursday.
But after that game, Kelly, who has never worked in the NFL, was noncommittal about his future. He said he was ready to embark on an "exploratory mission" set up by agent David Dunn. When the Cleveland Browns, who had spent the week in Arizona, interviewed Kelly all day Friday, reports surfaced that he was about to become their coach. Just a few ends needed to be tied up. Then, it seemed Kelly was going to go through with scheduled interviews with the Bills and Eagles after all, but was supposed to meet with the Browns again for dinner Saturday, with Cleveland expecting to close the deal.
Kelly's lunchtime meeting with the Eagles lasted past midnight, and suddenly there was talk he might become the Birds' new coach. But team chairman Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski went on to Denver Sunday morning, indicating they weren't that close to a deal with Kelly.
As Sunday wore on, reports indicated the Browns were moving on without Kelly. The Eagles made no such statement. Speculation grew that Kelly, who last year agreed to coach the Bucs, then changed his mind, would again spurn the NFL to return to Oregon.
The Eagles' McCoy meeting was not as lengthy as the sessions with Kelly and with Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who ultimately decided to stay at State College.