Oregon finished the 2016 college football season at 4-8 following the team’s loss to rival Oregon State, and head coach Mark Helfrich is reportedly on his way out of Eugene.
Oregon may soon have a new head football coach.
According to a report from Dan Wolken and George Schroeder of USA TODAY Sports, the Ducks have begun preparations for a coaching search after they let go of Mark Helfrich, who just finished a disappointing 4-8 season in Eugene.
Oregon’s administration was hoping to retain Helfrich for several reasons, and there was newfound hope that he’d be back in 2017 following the team’s upset win at Utah last week. But all of that goodwill was lost on Saturday when the Ducks dropped a 34-24 decision at Oregon State. It was UO’s first loss to OSU in nine years, and the Ducks allowed the Beavers to score 20 unanswered points after holding a 24-14 lead in the third quarter.
It was probably a good thing that Nike founder and Oregon booster Phil Knight spent the afternoon at the Michigan-Ohio State game, because he didn’t have to watch the Ducks struggle yet again.
Helfrich is 37-16 overall as the head man in Eugene and took the Ducks to the 2014 national championship game. But the on-field performance has gone downhill since that title-game appearance, as he is now just 13-12 in his last two seasons. The team’s recruiting has not been up to par as of late as well. Bringing Helfrich back would not play too well with a lot of fans and alums, so it’s likely that Oregon officials have come to grips with the necessity of making a change.
Oregon will owe Helfrich an $11.6 million buyout, as he still has three years left on a five-year extension he signed in February 2015. The Ducks will now have to navigate a coaching marketplace that is missing Tom Herman, who took over for Charlie Strong at Texas.
In terms of who could be in play at Oregon, keep an eye on Boise State’s Bryan Harsin, Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck and UCF’s Scott Frost.