The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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World, nation, state

January 5, 2013

Browns close to deal with Chip Kelly to be next coach

(Continued)

CLEVELAND —

He came close to jumping to the pros last year but turned down an offer from Tampa Bay to return for his fourth season as head coach at Oregon, where he is 46-7. He has boosted the school's national profile — flashy uniforms helped — with a high-powered offense capable of turning any game into a track meet.

"It's more a fact-finding mission, finding out if it fits or doesn't fit," Kelly said after the Ducks beat No. 7 Kansas State 35-17. "I've been in one interview in my life for the National Football League, and that was a year ago. I don't really have any preconceived notions about it. I think that's what this deal is all about for me. It's not going to affect us in terms of we're not on the road (recruiting). I'll get an opportunity if people do call, see where they are.

"I want to get it wrapped up quickly and figure out where I'm going to be."

Kelly has been at or near the top of the Browns' list of candidates since the team fired Pat Shurmur, who went 9-23 in two seasons. Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and CEO Joe Banner have been conducting interviews in Arizona all week, searching for the team's sixth full-time coach since 1999.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton confirmed he interviewed with Cleveland earlier this week. The Browns have reportedly met with former Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt, Marrone and Penn State's Bill O'Brien, who removed himself from any consideration on Thursday night and intends to stay at the school.

The Browns might have been interested in Alabama's Nick Saban, but the 61-year-old doesn't seem to have any interest in returning to the NFL after two seasons with Miami.

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