According to ESPN, Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is set to be named Chip Kelly’s successor in Eugene. The move is set to be announced on Sunday afternoon.
The move was widely expected following the abrupt departure of Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, the school athletic department made sure to do their due diligence prior to the hiring, and that included an interview with former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Hamilton, meanwhile, was hired on as the new offensive coordinator of the Indianapolis Colts.
Helfrich served as the offensive coordinator at Colorado for three years before joining the Ducks’ staff in 2009. Since arriving in Eugene, he and Kelly have worked together to develop one of the fastest and most prolific offensive units in the history of the game of football — at any level.
Oregon finished the 2012 season ranked second in points scoring, averaging a blistering 49.6 per game. Helfich’s offense also finishied fifth nationally in total yardage with a 537.4 per game average. Big 12 champion Kansas State got a first-hand look as the Ducks wrapped up a 12-1 season with a 35-17 drubbing of the Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl.
It had been looking like Helfrich was either going to have to wait a few years longer or leave Eugene altogether in order to finally get his shot at a head coaching position.
The day after that Fiesta Bowl win, Kelly dove right into NFL interviews. Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam and his team of advisers flew out to Arizona to interview him. The nearby Cardinals also paid him visit, as did the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia. However, after spending hours upon hours talking with heads of these well-respected professional organizations, Kelly announced his intention of staying in the comfy confines of Eugene.
Ducks fans near and far rejoiced at the idea of having their innovative and game-changing head coach back on campus, only to have the rug pulled out from under them a week later. Kelly reversed course, shocking most within the sports world with a decision to take on the head coaching reins with the Eagles.
Now, let these fans rejoice once again. Helfrich is a fantastic offensive mind that understands the ins and outs of the Oregon football program better than anyone not named Chip Kelly. He will run the exact same offense and recruit the exact same superstar speedsters to come to Eugene to sport those crazy Nike uniforms. With a few years of eligibility remaining for quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back De’Anthony Thomas — both considered to be very much in the mix for the Heisman in 2013 — Helfrich should not have to endure too much by way of growing pains.
Wide receivers coach Scott Frost will receive a promotion as well, becoming Helfrich’s new offensive coordinator.