Oregon Should Fire Mark Helfrich

It’s not a good time to be a fan of the Oregon Ducks. The PAC-12 powerhouse is going through a bit of an identity crisis and it’s likely time to make a change at the top. When Chip Kelly left the team in 2012 and Oregon named offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich the head coach, some fans were not happy. I was on the fence myself, even though I wasn’t a big fan of the hire initially. During the Chip Kelly-era, the Ducks took the leap into college football’s elite teams. Unfortunately for Duck fans, they aren’t the kind of program that can constantly win like an Alabama, Florida State, or an Ohio State. Why? Because of many factors.

Location. Oregon is tucked away in the Pacific Northwest. There aren’t a whole lot of kids from all over the United States jumping at the chance to come play in Oregon.

Weather. The weather is crappy (except for the summer time) and let’s face it….college kids love them some sunny weather and not rain (SHOCKER!).

Lack of historical significance. Oregon is still relatively new to being a successful team in college football and they don’t have the history of a Michigan, Notre Dame, etc.

With all those factors playing against the Ducks, they need a guy at the head coach position that top recruits want to play for. Chip Kelly was that guy. After being promoted to Oregon’s head coach in 2009, Kelly’s stock exploded. NFL teams were interested in him. The media couldn’t stop talking about him. Oregon’s offense was one of the most exciting things in the game of football and you couldn’t take your eyes off of it. Then Kelly left. Oregon was left scrambling for a replacement after Kelly announced his departure so they did what the Oregon Ducks ALWAYS do….

Promote from within.

Instead of looking outside of it’s core group of coaches already on staff, the Ducks once again promoted their offensive coordinator to the head coach position because they are apparently afraid of a little change.

You know who’s not afraid of change?

Alabama. Ohio State. Michigan. Notre Dame. Florida. Georgia. Tennessee. UCLA.

Should I go on?

My point is, Oregon settled when they hired Mark Helfrich. They assumed they were getting Chip Kelly version two and the ship was just going to keep running smoothly, even though the captain bailed. That’s not what happened though and now the ship struck an iceberg and it’s going down.

Personally, I started worrying that Helfrich wasn’t the guy after year one. There was an incident where former tight end Colt Lyerla made a poor decision on-the-field and as he ran back towards the sidelines, Helfrich tried to grab him and say something to him. However, Lyerla was obviously upset and blew Helfrich off and Mark just smiled about it and acted like everything was OK. That’s when I started worrying about the discipline of this team. Here we are, four years later and the Ducks are constantly one of the most penalized teams in college football. So far this season, they are the FOURTH most penalized team in college football. A sign that the team lacks discipline and that goes on the head coach. Another strike against Helfrich.

Some people like to give Helfrich a pass because of what happened in year two. The guy rode Chip Kelly’s recruits (and some guy named Marcus Mariota) to an appearance in the National Championship. Yes, that was an extraordinary job by Helfrich that year, but hear me out for a second. Oregon got to the National Championship game after they beat a Florida State team that everyone bagged on all-year long as “not being very good”. The Ducks proved that right when they smashed the Seminoles in the playoffs. That was a big win for Helfrich (the biggest of his career), but he immediately got brought back down to Earth when Urban Meyer out-coached him in the National Championship game embarrassing the Ducks on National TV. Another strike against Helfrich.

Last year was an interesting year for Oregon. After losing the best player in program history to the NFL, no one knew what to expect from the Ducks, but they were still considered PAC-12 contenders by a lot of experts. Oregon then went on to lose four games for the first time since 2007. Helfrich was out-coached on numerous occasions and if that wasn’t bad enough, Oregon played TCU in the Alamo Bowl and lost a 30-point halftime lead and went on to lose the game in embarrassing fashion. Another strike against Helfrich.

So, you get my point yet? After four years of seeing Mark Helfrich as head coach of the Oregon Ducks, I’m less than pleased with his job thus far and it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better. Helfrich has shown time and time again that he’s a questionable in-game coach. His teams lack discipline. He’s not that great of a recruiter. And the guy is just the pure definition of AVERAGE. If Oregon fans are fine with being average, then by all means….keep Helfrich on board. You remember what it was like to be a Duck fan before the Chip Kelly era? That’s whats coming your way fans.

Unless the Ducks make a drastic coaching change this off-season.

But they won’t.

Because too much change is scary.


9 thoughts on “Oregon Should Fire Mark Helfrich

  1. A couple things must happen before Helfrich is fired.

    First, the season has to end. There is language in his contract that does not allow for a firing in-season. Contracts can be broken and all that jazz, but likely will incur a financial penalty – which brings me to the second snag.

    Nike and other donors will have to want him out badly enough to pay for the rest of his contract and pay for the replacement coach. Oregon is in a bit of cluster right now financially, not earning as much from investments for state employee pensions and trying to make up for it with new taxes that may not be approved by the general public thus fall. The state of Oregon and the UO can likely not afford to pay the +3.5 million/year for Helf through 2019-20 and a new contract that will likely have to be more than what Helf earns in order to attract the coach that can return the program to CFP relevance.

    Helf would need to win 5 or fewer games this season and repeat the poor performance next season in order to be fired and the University not be on the hook for the remainder of his contract.

    I am hoping for a turnaround and undefeated October + November, but we will honestly be lucky if we get to a bowl game this year – young team, lots of injuries, and poor coaching are a rough combo to overcome.


  2. Fire Helfrich now and get one of several good options out there right now rather than waiting until later in the season and losing out. This season is already over for Oregon.


  3. STAY THE COURSE…DIRECT QUOTE FROM MR. CHIP HIMSELF !!! Side note play j.hubert you will win…been an OREGON FAN since ’82 and I’ve stayed the course …the KID has “IT” (Mariota to tha 2nd) so STFU …& GO DUCKS !!! QUACK QUACK M FERZ !!!


  4. This year is as much about youth and inexpeeience as it is about coaching. When you put the two together you have a perfect storm. On the bright side there’s still high interest from 5-Star recruits that might see an opportunity for playing time next year. Weather in Eugene is 10 times better than places like Ohio State, Michigan, Norte Dame and Washington. As far as California, Arizona and Florida are concerned, I’ll concede the sun is a nice draw but they can keep putrid drinking water , earthquakes, monsoons, hurricanes and urban sprawl. Funny how climate change has a way of altering the way we value things like rain and fresh drinking water.


  5. This team has a problem. And I’m not buying the rebuilding because a lot of young kids. Rich Brooks spent 17 years rebuilding. He had 1% of the salary. 1% of the recruiting budget. And 0% of the talent the Duck’s have to work with today. Hardly ever had a winning season. And he never had a team that got beat that bad.

    ‘Mike Bellotti spent 14 years. Still didnt have that kind of talent. Went to 12 bowl games, and only had one 5-6 losing season. Never even came close to that.

    That was the worst defensive performance since the day before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. And the second worst in Duck’s history. That’s 75 years. I’m not saying fire the head coach yet, but that defensive coordinator has to go.


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