Chip Kelly may be gone, but Oregon has already brought his “next man up” philosophy into action by promoting offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich to head coach.
Helfrich, 39, replaced Kelly as Oregon’s offensive coordinator when Kelly took the Ducks’ head coaching job in 2009, and now follows his predecessor into the big office. A graduate of Southern Oregon, Helfrich’s coaching career began as a graduate assistant in 1997 and worked at Boise State, Arizona State and Colorado in between stops at Oregon.
“What we want is someone who understands the culture that is unique here, not only within our football program but within our community,” Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens said in a Wednesday press conference. “We want someone who has proven excellence and that has been around winning programs, who knows what it takes because expectations for this program have shifted. We want to compete for Pac-12 championships and we want to be in BCS bowls and we want someone who understands what it takes from A to Z: from recruiting to creating a culture of academic excellence, to understanding the role of that team in this department and this community, and then of course, on-field success.”
The promotion of Helfrich not only falls in tradition with Kelly’s program, but also with Oregon’s larger history. Helfrich’s hiring continues a string of in-house head coaching hires that began in 1977, and also keeps alive Oregon’s streak of hiring a head coach without previous FBS or FCS head coaching experience that has lasted since 1974.
Helfrich is a two-time winner (2010 & 2012) of FootballScoop’s Quarterbacks Coach of the Year.
In four years of running the Ducks’ attack with Kelly, Oregon never ranked lower than eighth nationally in rushing offense or scoring offense. Helfrich is now charged with finding the next Mark Helfrich, someone to help oversee that speedy talents like Marcus Mariota and De’Anthony Thomas continue reaching the end zone in record-breaking fashion.
Rob Moseley of the Eugene Register-Guard is also reporting that wide receivers coach Scott Frost will replace Helfrich as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator. Frost has been Oregon’s wide receivers coach since 2009.