We are two weeks into the Mark Helfrich era at Oregon and, by all accounts, things are going very well. The players are on board with the move, Helfrich is shoring up the recruiting class, and the fans have bought in. People are fawning over having an Oregon native who sees coaching the Ducks as his dream job and all dream of a long and happy marriage.
Everything sounds great now. But what happens when the Ducks play in an Alamo Bowl? Or a Holiday Bowl?
Will Oregon fans still have the same feelings about Helfrich then?
Chip Kelly left awfully big shoes to fill. Duck fans were disappointed with a Fiesta Bowl appearance this season. Anything less than a BCS appearance next season will be deemed underwhelming.
We all know that this can't continue in perpetuity. Chip Kelly himself wasn't going to four more BCS bowls in a row. It just doesn't happen.
I'm not sure what Oregon's ceiling is under Mark Helfrich. Barring NCAA sanctions, I expect that Oregon should compete for a Pac-12 Title and BCS bowl next season. After that? I'm not so sure. Certainly, the Oregon program should strive for that, but what if they go 9-3 and make the Alamo Bowl? What if the Ducks lose to Washington? What if they're merely a really good program, instead of one that runs roughshod over the conference week in and week out?
Because that's likely where we're headed. And it was likely that we were headed there eventually under Chip Kelly anyway. I expect this program to be good every year. Losing seasons should never happen. But there are going to be 7-8-9 win seasons between conference championships and potential national championships. That just the way that this game eventually works. Other teams catch up to you. It just happens.
So if Mark Helfrich goes 8-4 in 2014, let's not be in a rush to show him the door. As long as we're in contention for a spot in the playoffs once every few years, this program is in a good place. However, if Duck fans get impatient after the first non-BCS season, the pressure to make hasty moves may lead to unsustainable cracks in the program's foundation.
What are you expectations for the Mark Helfrich era?