Oregon has announced that Mike Bellotti, the dean of Pacific 10 Conference coaches, is stepping down, effective March 30. Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly will drop the coach-in-waiting title and take over as coach.
In the interim, Bellotti, who was coach for 14 seasons, will serve as senior counselor to current athletic director Pat Kilkenny, who is stepping aside on June 30. Bellotti will then take over the athletic director duties on July 1.
Although the succession plan was put in place in December, Bellotti's decision to step down now rather than at the end of the 2009 season was a bit of a stunner, according to Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard, who wrote on his blog:
"Personally, I’m a little surprised. Of the athletic department people I’ve spoken with this week, none expected an announcement before Monday. One even said yesterday that, while the decision might have been a coin flip, he thought it was more likely Bellotti would return than not.
"So Bellotti either came to this decision just recently or did a great job of keeping it under wraps."
Thanks to Jason.