Oregon fires Mark Helfrich
Oregon made it official Tuesday evening, firing Mark Helfrich after the Ducks 4-8 campaign. Helfrich had the unenviable task of following Chip Kelly, and for the first two seasons looked to be up to the task. The Ducks finished 11-2 and ranked #6 overall in 2013, but the spoiled fanbase was expecting a BCS birth or else.
2014 was much better, as Helfrich helped Oregon reach their first national championship game ever, which included a 59-20 beatdown of the 2013 champs, Florida State. Things started to fall apart very quickly for Helfrich after that, as the talent Kelly had recruited left, their defense lost their identity, and he wilted under the pressure.
Oregon finished 9-4 in 2015, although they started 3-3 and then went on a run to make the Alamo Bowl. A third consecutive bowl game loss (47-41 to TCU) had Ducks boosters second guessing their hire.
Finally, this year was just a mess. Helfrich’s team gave up 50 points on four different occasions. Finishing with their worst record (4-8) since 2004, and the writing was on the wall for a change. Oregon now enters the coaching search with a very short list of candidates.
2 Names Rising Quickly for Oregon’s Coaching Job
P.J Fleck (Western Michigan)
Don’t be surprised if you hear P.J Fleck’s name tied to this job very early. Western Michigan just completed a perfect regular season, and Fleck is the hottest young coach in major college football not named Tom Herman. Phil Knight would likely write a blank check and shower Fleck with all the custom swoosh apparel he could ever dream of.
Jim McElwain (Florida)
You know there might be truth to a rumor when the head coach flat out denies any interest in the opportunity, right? It was just three years ago that McElwain was introduced as the Gators head coach, however his ties to the Northwest remain. McElwain is a defensive mind who could have the support to go out and hire a dynamic offensive coordinator to fix the Ducks. Wait, doesn’t he already have that in Gainesville?
You know Chip Kelly’s name will be brought up at some point, as his 49ers sit in the NFC basement. Would Kelly be open to going back to where the magic began? His ego may get the best of him here, as in his eyes the move to go back to college shows he failed in the pros. Unlike Jim Harbaugh, who at least reached a Superbowl and won with San Francisco, Kelly has not had sustained success at the pro level. He is sticking around in the Bay Area until they fire him.