After a few weeks of speculation, yesterday, Chip Kelly hired native Oregonian Mark Helfrich to be the new Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks coach. Helfrich, who gained a reputation for coaching quarterbacks when he was coaching Andrew Walter as ASU, will bring his expertise to Oregon.
However, coaching wise, Helfrich seemed to fall on tough times at Coloado. As much as the athletic department wants to spin it, the performance of the Colorado offense under Helfrich was abysmal, causing our friends over at the Ralphie Report to respond to the loss of their OC with a collective, "meh." Colorado was not better than 10th in the Big 12 in any offensive category, and averaged barely 20ppg. Wether this was a matter of circumstance or coaching, it wasn't a great time to be an offensive coordinator at Colorado. Lack of talent, injuries, etc. caused a complete lack of effectiveness of the offense.
It sounds like change of pace is exactly what Helfrich needs. And his responsibilities will be much different than what they were in Boulder. While Helfrich retains the title of offensive coordinator, I doubt that he will have much of the responsibilities or power that usually entails. First and foremost, this is still Chip Kelly's baby. I as guessing that he will call the plays in 2009, and will still have a firm grasp on the offense. On top of that, Steve Greatwood has been promoted to "running game coordinator," which fits perfectly with Helfrich, who served as passing game coordinator at Arizona State.
And if it plays out this way, this could end up being a winning situation all around. With Kelly running the ship, he has two coaches underneath him that he trusts, in roles that they excel in. The running game is in the best hands around under Greatwood, and Helfrich can get back to what he's done best, coach quarterbacks.
On top of this, Helfrich is very much a team player, and seems to understand this role. When asked about his responsibilities by the Oregonian, he responded:
I'm a company guy, I'm a team guy, I'm a loyal guy. If that's something that Chip wants to do, that's certainly something that's a bridge we will cross. If he wants me to coordinate the postgame meal, it'll be a darn good postgame meal. If we're calling plays against SC, I've done that before, too.
While all the specifics of his new job are not set, it seems like Helfrich knows his responsibility will not be as wide-ranging as a typical offensive coordinator, and he is on board with that, which will be vital for the success of the offense.
With Kelly's new head coaching responsibilities, having coaches that he trusts will be huge. Having Bellotti step in during spring helped a lot, and freed Kelly to coach the whole team. Kelly must have been very comfortable with Helfrich, and his philosophy of coaching QBs.
The only real concern is on the recruiting front. Buffalo fans did not seem overly impressed with Helfrich's ability to recruit, and he will be in charge of Oregon recruiting in Texas, starting Monday. And Oregon will be going hard after QBs after missing on Tajh Boyd last year.
Overall, I like the hire. I think that Greatwood and Helfrich complement each other greatly, and will be able to succeed at the tasks they are given. If Helfrich can get the kids to come to Oregon, I have little doubt that he can help them succeed.
GO DUCKS! And welcome back to Oregon, Coach Helfrich!