It was a lonely Sunday morning for Mark Helfrich.
Sitting alone for his season-ending press conference, the Oregon head coach said he'll meet with Oregon AD Rob Mullens in the middle of the upcoming week to determine his status leading the program moving forward.
In taking over for Chip Kelly, Helfrich led the Ducks to a 24-4 start with a Pac-12 championship and an appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship in 2014. Oregon slipped to 9-4 last season and fell to 4-8 this fall, where the Ducks' struggles on defense were exacerbated when the offense fell off its elite clip of seasons past.
So, while Rob Mullens waits to perform the most essential function of his job -- the handling of his most visible employee and the most important team in the athletics department -- Helfrich did his on Sunday. He accepted tough questions with patience and answered with candor while putting his program and his players first.
USA Today reported Saturday night Oregon has begun its search for the next coach. In the meantime, Helfrich said he'd head to a team banquet after Sunday's press conference, and then begin the winter recruiting period. "That's something I can't control," Helfrich said of the report.
Mullens is a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, and those duties keep him in Dallas through Tuesday in normal weeks. But this is anything but a normal week. (Helfrich said he asked Mullens to meet in person Sunday, but was denied.) By leaving Helfrich and the program to hang in limbo through Wednesday, the coach is left with a scenario where, on its face, his best option is as a fall back because Mullens couldn't secure another coach. "It's not ideal," Helfrich said. "But a lot of things in this situation aren't ideal."
If he is retained for the 2017 season, Helfrich indicated he would not make changes on Oregon's notoriously continuos staff. "I don't foresee staff changes. There were issues that everybody knows. I think the guys that are in the building are the best to solve those issues."
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.