Mark Helfrich fired: after four seasons, he is out at Oregon, according to a report by CSNNW’s Aaron Fentress.
The Ducks head coach has been towards the top of every “hot seat” list this season, with the team going an extremely uncharacteristic 4-8 on the year. Now, according to Fentress’ report, he has been fired.
Oregon dismissed football coach Mark Helfrich tonight following a meeting with athletic director Rob Mullens, according to sources.
At that meeting, sources said, Helfrich had to sell Mullens on a plan to turn things around. Also factoring into the equation was Helfrich’s buyout price tag of $11.6 million with there years remaining on his contract, and the fact that no obvious coaching replacement candidate had been identified. Another factor was that the coaching staff includes many who have been with the program for from 14 to 33 years. Letting go of an entire staff would require a slam-dunk alternative option that might not have existed.
Clearly, that meeting didn’t go well for Helfrich.
FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman is also reporting that Helfrich is out in Eugene.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 30, 2016
The Oregon opening may be the most intriguing in college football in some time. The Ducks last fired their head coach in 1976, when it replaced Don Read with Rich Brooks. Brooks first turned the Ducks program into a competitor in the sport, giving way to Mike Belotti after the 1994 season, who in turn left the program to Chip Kelly ahead of the 2009 season. After Kelly departed to the NFL, his offensive coordinator, Helfrich, was promoted.
The Ducks will now almost certainly go outside of the program for its next head coach. It is uncharted territory for that football program, which has so long been defined by two things: its relationship with Nike, and the offense that Kelly brought to the program, and Helfrich continued to utilize.
Helfrich was 37-16 in four years at Oregon. His 2014 Ducks team went to the national championship game.
Update: Oregon has officially announced that Mark Helfrich has been fired. From GoDucks.com:
Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens announced a change in leadership in the football program Tuesday, ending the four-year tenure of head coach Mark Helfrich.
The decision was announced after a meeting between the two Tuesday night.
“We want to thank Mark for his eight years with the University of Oregon and appreciate his efforts on behalf of Oregon football,” Mullens said. “We wish Mark and his family the best.”
The release does not really shy away from citing why Helfrich was let go.
After taking over for Kelly following four seasons as offensive coordinator, Helfrich maintained Oregon’s status as one of the nation’s most potent offenses. But after finishing 37th in the FBS in total defense in 2013, the Ducks slipped to No. 89 during the playoff season, No. 117 in 2015 and No. 126 this season, despite the hiring of a new coordinator who installed a new scheme.
The Ducks saw several significant streaks end in 2016, including their winning streak in the Civil War. Oregon failed to make a bowl and suffered a losing season for the first time since 2004, and saw an Autzen Stadium sellout streak that began in 1999 end at 110 consecutive home games. The Ducks lost at least eight games for the first time since 1991.
We’re extremely interested to see where Oregon goes from here. It is a position the program has not been in in decades.