The speculation has been there all season long. Now it’s official. Mark Helfrich has been fired as the head coach of Oregon football.
Helfrich wanted to meet with athletic director Rob Mullens before meeting with the media on Sunday morning, but Mullens was traveling to Dallas to help determine the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Instead, the news dragged out to now when the inevitable was finally made official. Many fans were displeased with how Mullens handled the situation.
This season, the Ducks finished 4-8, their worst record in 25 years. They missed a bowl game for the first time since 2004, and lost important rivalry games against Washington and Oregon State. The loss to Washington, which was part of a five-game losing streak, set the wheels in motion. The loss to Oregon State on Saturday sealed Helfrich’s fate.
During his four seasons as Oregon head coach, Helfrich went 37-16, with half of those losses coming in the past two season’s after the Ducks reached the national championship game against Ohio State.
This is a costly firing for Oregon’s athletic program. Helfrich is now owed $11.6 million for the buyout of his contract. Had Oregon flopped again in 2017, it would've cost just $3.7 million to buy out Helfrich’s contract due to a clause stating the buyout would be cut in half if the Ducks won fewer than six games in consecutive seasons.
There are a number of strong candidates out there, and according to reports, Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck is at or near the top of Oregon's list. Boise State’s Bryan Harsin is also reported to be high on Oregon’s list.