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Chip Kelly hired as Philadelphia Eagles' next coach

The Philadelphia Eagles' long, winding coaching search ended where it all began.

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Oregon coach Chip Kelly will take the Eagles' head-coaching job after all, and the team later confirmed it.

"It's a very difficult decision for me. It took me so long to make it just because the people here are special," Kelly told KEZI-TV, via The Associated Press. "The challenge obviously is exciting for me, but it's an exciting time and it's a sad time -- saying goodbye to people you love and respect, and I wanted to make sure I talked to my players and did it in the right fashion and talked to our staff. I feel I did."

It's a stunning turn of events 10 days after the Eagles' pursuit of Kelly fizzled in the wake of Oregon's Fiesta Bowl victory. Countless reports said Kelly chose to stay at Oregon. He re-committed to the school and began to operate as its coach again. But the Eagles didn't give up pursuing their man, and ESPN's Chris Mortenson broke the news Wednesday morning.

The media spotlight moved on to the other coaches the Eagles met with, including former Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt, NFL Network analyst Brian Billick and Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Time will tell why things changed. Perhaps Kelly simply had a change of heart. Perhaps the Eagles sweetened the deal enough to make Kelly reconsider. Maybe Kelly's deal to stay at Oregon wasn't quite what he hoped.

No matter the reason, this has to be a gratifying moment for the Eagles. Despite a previous public statement in which they said they had no regrets after pursuing three college head coaches, Kelly was their top choice all along. Now they have him.

Kelly will bring an innovative, up-tempo offense to the NFL. (First question for Kelly: Will he keep Michael Vick?) It's an offense that includes a lot of change of direction and unpredictability. Kelly has shown that skill set and then some during the last two weeks as he spoke to NFL teams and re-committed to Oregon.

I'm not sure what the Kelly era will be like in Philadelphia, but Eagles fans can get ready for a wild ride.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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