Chip Kelly shocked the football world on Wednesday, leaving the Oregon Ducks for the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly leaves the Ducks with a 46-7 record in four seasons, which includes four straight appearances in BCS games. That’s a tough act to follow and that responsibility may fall to someone with local ties.
Two weeks ago, USA Today first reported that Oregon Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich would be named the next head coach if Kelly left for the NFL. Helfrich has been with the Ducks since Kelly took over, but his football roots begin in the Rogue Valley. Helfrich played for Southern Oregon from the 1992-1995 seasons, then became the team’s running backs coach in 1996.
If the ducks offensive coordinator does get the promotion, he would be one of the youngest head coaches in Division one and in charge of one of the top programs in the country. For those who worked with Helfrich at SOU, they say it comes as no surprise that he’s in this position.
“He understood the roles of a coach,” said Jeff Olson, former Raiders head coach. “Yes, I’m here to coach football, but I’m also here to coach life skills. I could tell that Mark already was starting to fit into a mold where this guy could have a very bright future because of those intangibles.”
‘He was looking to be a doctor, he was in biology, pre-med,” said SOU Athletid Director Matt Sayre.” Extremely smart so you knew right off that bat if he wanted to be a football coach, he would be a dynamite one.”
During the University’s press conference, Athletic Director Rob Mullens said the University will look at internal candidates to fill the position, but will also look outside the program.