Chip Kelly TIm Walton

Chip Kelly Always Knew Ryan Day Was Destined To Coach

As a head coach for 14 years, Chip Kelly’s coaching tree has many branches and deep roots. One of those branches is Ohio State head coach Ryan Day, who was a tight ends coach for Kelly back in 2002 when he was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire.

Thirteen years later, Day was Kelly’s quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles, and then the San Francisco 49ers one year later.

Like all branches and trees, Kelly and Day also share the same roots.

Both grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire. They both played football at the University of New Hampshire, though their playing days were separated by about 17 years.

It was not a huge surprise, then, when Day turned to Kelly to be his offensive coordinator this year. Day has always cited Kelly as a mentor, and given how dynamic the two have been offensively in their respective careers, that mentorship seems to have been an effective experience.

Apart, But Never Distant

The two have gone their separate ways several times over the years. That’s the nature of coaching — and branches.

Even separated, however, they were still connected. Such as last summer when the news broke that UCLA was joining the Big Ten. Kelly was the head coach of the Bruins at the time and the pair found out while at the same golf outing. Kelly was one hole ahead of Day, and together their wives broke the news to each of them during the round.

But Kelly and Day’s relationship goes back before they were on the same coaching staff. Day played quarterback at New Hampshire when Kelly was the offensive coordinator, so Kelly has been able to watch Day’s progression from both afar and up close.

Despite the winding path that Day has taken from Manchester to Columbus, there have been some straightforward things about Day that haven’t changed.

“Even since he was playing Little League, he was the ultimate competitor and he was always trying to find a way to win,” Kelly said recently, giving even more insight to how far back the two of them actually go. “He was great at a lot of sports, baseball, basketball, football, and I got an opportunity to recruit him.

“I coached him when I was at New Hampshire. I recruited him out of high school. And we grew up really close to each other. So, same elementary school, same high school, same junior high, same college, so I’ve known him for a really long time. But that competitive fire burns deep with him, and that’s the one thing that I’ve always admired with him.”

Putting The Fire To Good Use

Like all coaches, that competitive fire can be seen on the sidelines, whether it is addressing coaches, players, or referees. But that’s only the side the public sees.

Kelly has seen the competitive fire as a player, and his ability to process every situation made him an ideal coaching candidate. That’s one of the reasons Day went from New Hampshire player to New Hampshire assistant coach following graduation.

It was a new branch for New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell’s coaching tree, but that doesn’t mean he went out on a limb.

“He’s got an amazing athletic brain, in terms of how to process things and how to how to put people in position to make plays,” Kelly said of Day. “He’s always been that prototypical coach on the field, no matter what sport he was playing. So I knew he was destined to be a coach, and I was fortunate in my career as a head coach to have him on my staff in a couple places. So I got a chance to see him work firsthand. I got to see him work firsthand as a player and then as a coach. So the success he had is not is not surprising to me.”

Now back to working together for the first time since 2016 with the 49ers, Chip Kelly is mostly looking to the future. But sharing the roots that they do, Kelly also looks back with a ton of pride in what Ryan Day has been able to accomplish.

“Yeah, I think we all do that. I think we come from a unique place in a really small hometown in New Hampshire, where we all take a lot of pride of where we’re from,” Kelly said.

“And when anybody is successful coming out of there, you kind of take a little pride in it. It’s the upbringing that we all had. In the youth sports program that we grew up in, in every aspect, whether it was football, baseball, basketball, those coaches had an amazing impact on us. And that’s why we are where we are right now.”

Go to discussion...