USA TODAY Sports
Chip Kelly has left Oregon for greener pastures. What do we know about the Man who is likely to replace him?
The timing of Chip Kelly's decision to bolt for the Philadelphia Eagles is strange, considering that he had stated he would be returning to Oregon next season. Obviously, something changed with what Philadelphia was willing to offer, and they landed their man.
Usually, such a situation leaves the team that the coach is leaving in a precarious situation--having to find a new coaching staff after the rest of the country has already done so and just weeks before signing day. That's not exactly the case at Oregon. The Ducks have danced the NFL tango with Chip Kelly before. Much of this coaching staff has been at Oregon for 20 years, a time spanning three head coaches. It has been a well-established fact that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich would be taking over the reins should Kelly decide to leave. It will take some time for this to become officials, as Oregon will have to perform interviews to comply with the State of Oregon's "Rooney Rule" about interviewing at least one minority for the position, but, barring something totally unforeseen, Helfrich will find himself in charge of a top-five program, and there will be very little turnover among the rest of the staff.
Helfrich has been somewhat of a mystery man at Oregon. We all know that Chip Kelly calls the plays, and that the offense is his baby. However, figures around the Oregon program have said that Helfrich has a lot more of an influence on the offense than most people believe, and he has an excellent reputation among those who work with him. Much of his work has been with the quarterbacks, and Marcus Mariota is quite close with him.
Prior to Oregon, Helfrich had stops at Boise State, Arizona State, and Colorado. He was the quarterbacks coach at ASU when Andrew Walter broke the Pac-10 touchdowns record. This led to him landing the OC job at Colorado under Dan Hawkins, where that program was pretty much destroyed. But don't look at that as a negative, as sometimes learning what not to do is an important part of improvement. By all accounts, his time at Oregon has been impeccable.
The 39-year old Helfrich is an Oregon native, playing his high school ball at Marshfield in Coos Bay, and quarterbacking at Southern Oregon University. He has a wife and two young kids. We'll see what the future brings, but it's likely that Oregon is Helfrich's dream job far more than it ever was for Kelly.