Somehow, I inadvertently inherited the Chip Kelly Watch and I would like to get off the train as soon as possible to enjoy my “Thankmas” celebration.
As my family of journalists from three states understands from all their past experiences, however, I just can’t let go of this story until a resolution is reached and Kelly is announced as Florida coach, which I still feel could come Sunday.
We stumbled upon this low-hanging fruit while working on my small-time, small-town radio show that has somehow recently attracted thousands and thousands of Facebook-ers almost overnight starting two weeks ago.
We have been consumed by it to a point where it’s become more of a Chip Stakeout than a Chip Watch.
They’ve been shutting us down and the Chase for Chip has been exhausting – fighting for scraps of information and feeding the masses two and three times a day with Facebook and radio broadcasts of “The Buddy Martin Show.”
Right now, to borrow the phrase of my former boss who used it to describe our round-the-clock newspaper coverage of Hurricane Charley, we’re operating on “caffeine and adrenaline.”
Not that it hasn’t been a journalistic joyride with my producer son Brenden as my wingman: Tracking the cloak-and-dagger movements of school officials; midnight rides to small airports after breaking the code of Florida’s super-secret maneuvers; showing up at a routine press conference and whiffing; pursuing tips that come up empty; taking encrypted messages from “insiders” and sorting out what’s real and what’s not.
When we finally discovered whom we could trust.
And then came The Leak about the flight to New Hampshire, whereupon we broke the story.
So, what’s next? Did he sign a contract? What will UF do if he says no?
We have learned not to go off side roads chasing rabbits down a hole.
So, we’ll stay with a pat hand for now and push all our Chips to the middle of the table.
Yes, I’ve heard about Kelly’s agent visiting UCLA.
Yes, I’ve heard about the rumor that Texas A&M is trying to get in on the Kelly Stakes.
“Just keep doing what you’re doing,” says my Deep-Throat Gator, “and you’ll be fine.”
All of my Insiders have been spot on so far – including the ones who gave Brenden and I the scoop on the six-person Florida contingent landing in New Hampshire to meet with Kelly.
Meanwhile, everybody in power was busy creating a smokescreen of dis-information and telling white lies.
Kelly was on Sports Center Sunday morning laughing at the suggestion that he might be the next Gator coach with mock derision – yet never denying it.
“I’m here (Bristol) on weekends,” Kelly said, “and during the week I’m in New Hampshire.”
Except later that day he met with President Kent Fuchs, AD Scott Stricklin and the Gator contingent in New Hampshire – as we reported on “The Buddy Martin Show” when the plane touched down in Portsmouth.
When the charter returned, landing in Florida Sunday night, the Gator group was a little surprised to see us because they had gone to extremes trying to fly under the radar, so to speak, taking off and landing in Ocala (where I live) and camouflaging their mission. They also had allegedly dispatched a “ghost plane” to New Hampshire a few days prior to confuse the media.
Fool me once …
So, we carry on, confident Chip Kelly will be named coach barring a last-second, cold-feet pushback at the altar.
Sometimes during the vigil, we are overtaken by silliness and resort to corny jokes …
“All that and a bag of Chip…”
“Can Chip Salsa?”
“Can Kelly coach the Gators to a ‘ChampionChip?’”
And then the write-ins like:
“Kelly should start off his press conference with ‘I don’t have a dog!’”
Or, “How about they hire him this week and make him Mr. Two Bits on Saturday for the Florida-FSU game?”
Where are we now?
It’s my story – and I’m sticking to it. And if I’m wrong, I’ll go down with the Chip. I trust the good information from the good people who were a lot smarter than people gave them credit for being.
Keep those cards and letters coming – and those posts on Facebook/The Buddy Martin Show.