The two-time Pac-10 coach of the year leads the Ducks against the Auburn Tigers in the BCS national title game on Jan. 10 in Glendale, Ariz.
Dan Patrick:What happened to New Year's Day bowl games? We have to wait until Jan. 10 for the title game.
Chip Kelly: I didn't even know some of the other games are spread out during the week. I just saw an advertisement for the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4. I'm a traditionalist. I would like them all to be played on the 1st.
DP:Would you rather play Auburn right away or have time to figure out what you're going up against?
CK: As long as each team has the same amount of time, there's no built-in excuse either way.
DP:How do you simulate Cam Newton?
CK: We tried to get Shaquille O'Neal, but we found out that was an NCAA violation.
DP:Who have you faced that's similar to Newton?
CK: There's nobody similar to him. There's not anyone in college football, except for Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor, that matches him sizewise.
DP:Is there anything you can take from last year's Rose Bowl loss to Pryor and Ohio State that can help you against Newton?
CK: No. I appreciate you reminding us about the Rose Bowl. The [Buckeyes] run a different type of offense. Terrelle's runs against us did hurt—keeping himself alive in the passing game and running on third down when it was a drop-back pass—[but] it wasn't really designed runs. With Auburn and Cam there's a lot of designed running plays.
DP:Is there anyone you faced this year you can compare to Auburn defensive lineman Nick Fairley?
CK: Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea. But he's not as tall or explosive. . . . You can't simulate that in practice. That's the tough part. You've got to know where they are schemewise and make sure you account for 'em, but until you see them explode on the first play . . . that will be the adjustment we have to make within the game.
DP:You seem pretty mellow. It's like you're in the library.
CK: We are in the library, because we're studying and preparing. The one thing we talked to our players about it is that we knew how much time we had off when we were named to go to the game. How do we use it wisely? We've won every game we've played this year because of our preparation. Our formula for how we're going to attack this game has to be the same.
DP:Did you think less of Cal for faking injuries?
CK: We ended up taking it as a compliment. [The Pac-10] said there was nothing we could do about it.
DP:If you were facing Oregon, would you fake injuries?
CK: No. I would tackle the guy with the ball.
DP:Will you fake an injury against Auburn?
CK: If I go down during the game, it's not a fake injury. It's a legitimate heart attack because of Cam Newton.
DP:You do have a backup plan if you go down.
CK: Yeah, I'm just a figurehead.
DP:Have your players ever tried to suck up to you and get you a gift for Christmas?
CK: No. I may address that at practice, though. "Before you guys leave [for Christmas break], make sure you drop your gift off at the head coach's office."
• Calling an Audible
Joe Flacco (above) caused some controversy by calling himself an "elite" quarterback in an interview with ESPN's Monday Night Football crew. But Flacco (who has completed only 62.1% of his passes in 2010) says he was just answering a question. "It was a production meeting. I was trying to get out to dinner. They asked me the same question twice, so it took me off guard. I'm thinking, "O.K., they must not have liked the answer I gave them the first time."
• Prime Time
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban thinks that as long as Dallas wins a few titles, forward Dirk Nowitzki will be remembered as a better player than Larry Bird—and he's not just sticking up for his guy. "There's going to be a lot more digital reference for Dirk than there was for Bird," Cuban said, referring to YouTube and all the television outlets available today. "When Larry played, there wasn't even cable for most of his career."
• Line of the week
Patriots receiver Wes Welker on quarterback Tom Brady's postgame fashion choices:
"You talking about Derek Zoolander? What the hell are we doing here? Are we playing football or are we doing a runway?"
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Ndamukong Suh discusses how much he loves to hit QBs.
2. Geno Auriemma talks about UConn's latest milestone.
THE FINE PRINT: Yao Ming is out for the season with a stress fracture in his ankle. On the bright side, whenever he goes in the MRI machine, he earns miles.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
PETER READ MILLER (KELLY)
SIMON BRUTY (FLACCO)
BRIAN BABINEAU/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (BRADY)