EUGENE, Ore. – Details surrounding University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly’s overseas trip to visit U.S. men and women serving in the armed forces have been released as the Ducks’ second-year head coach will be one of five NCAA bowl subdivision football coaches to take part in the Coaches Tour 2010.
The 10-day trip, sponsored by the USO (United Service Organizations) and Under Armour in conjunction with Armed Forces Entertainment, is in its third year of providing entertainment, relief from the rigors of active duty and an expression of gratitude and support for military troops serving in Europe and Asia. The Morale Entertainment Foundation helped originate the tour in 2008 and is joined this year by the USO as one of the tour’s presenters.
Kelly will be joined on the goodwill trip by the U.S. Military Academy head coach Rich Ellerson, Tim Murphy of Harvard, Tommy Tuberville from Texas Tech and Illinois’ Ron Zook.
Division I coaches who have taken part in previous tours include Mark Richt (Georgia), Randy Shannon (Miami) and Charlie Weis (Notre Dame) in 2008, as well as Mack Brown (Texas), Rick Neuheisel (UCLA) and Jim Tressel (Ohio State) in 2009.
Although Kelly’s participation with Coaches Tour 2010 is consistent with the theme exhibited during last Saturdays Oregon Spring Game tribute featuring the support of the state’s men and women who served in or are about to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, the tour is independent of last weekend’s activities.
“As I’ve said before, the bond that ties together my role as an Oregon head coach with an opportunity to support and thank those men and women who are sacrificing their time to protect our country is that many of them are of the same age as the players I coach,” Kelly reiterated. “The role that they play overseas is of greater priority than the game that we play in the comfort of our own homes. It is the least that I can do to offer my support and provide whatever service I can to the real heroes.”
Participants of the tour will assemble at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan. Following a brief stop at Scott Air Force Base (Ill.), the group will depart for Ramstein Air Base in Rheinland-Pflaz, Germany, via a four engine trans-continental KC-135 Stratotanker. The group is expected to return to the United States on May 31 at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base.
Due to heightened security, specifics of the itinerary will not be revealed in advance. However the 2010 tour is expected to visit at least eight countries in nine days, with the anticipation of interacting with between 15,000 and 20,000 service men and women. Included among the anticipated activities will be autograph and photo sessions between the coaches and troops, panel discussions, skills competitions as well as flag football games.
Previous tours have touched in excess of 40,000 troops over the past two years, with coaches having distributed athletic apparel to the troops. Nike has stepped forward to donate apparel for Kelly to distribute on the tour.