Mark Helfrich is out as head coach at Oregon. After letting him twist for a few days after a 4-8 season, Oregon made it official last night. And I’m not sure what’s more surprising, that they fired a guy who stomped FSU in the Rose Bowl and went to the national championship game just two years ago or how they did it.
Because the original statement that was on the program’s website wasn’t just your usual press release announcing a change in coaching that has some flattering quotes from the Athletic Director about the outgoing coach and the job that he’s done. Oh, no, it was much different than that. The last four paragraphs were a burial of Mark Helfrich. Here are a few excerpts:
“Helfrich helped recruit and groom quarterback Marcus Mariota, who won the 2014 Heisman Trophy while leading the Ducks to the title game. But the Ducks had to rely on graduate transfers entering both 2015 and 2016.”
Uhhh, okay. Feels like a slight editorial jab at quarterback recruiting there, but whatever. We’ll move on.
“Vernon Adams Jr. helped Oregon reach the 2015 Alamo Bowl but was hurt just before halftime, and could only watch as the Ducks squandered a 31-0 lead.”
Not often you see the word “squandered” in a statement about a coaching change, let alone one about a guy who everyone likes as a person and who led you to the national title game two years ago, but there’s a first time for everything. Let’s keep reading.
“Oregon’s first loss of 2016 was at Nebraska, a 35-32 defeat in which the Ducks went for two after all five of their touchdowns and converted once. The next week, Pac-12 play began with a loss to Colorado in which the Ducks allowed 41 points and threw an interception on a potential game-winning td pass in the final minute.”
I’m starting to see a pattern here. Taking a run at the 2-point conversion calls in the Nebraska game and then calling out the defense for giving up 41 to Colorado. Is this an official statement or a message board post?
“The recently completed season also included one-sided losses to Washington (70-21), Southern California (45-20) and Stanford (52-27). An upset of No. 11 Utah on Nov. 19 kept alive Oregon’s hopes of making a bowl despite a 5-7 record, but the loss in Corvallis ended that.”
Stop, stop, stop, he’s already dead. You don’t need to set the body on fire and throw it into a vat of acid too.
The school has since revised the statement and that’s a good thing. Because that original version was rough. Really rough.
Again, I get it. When you’re used to having success and being at the top of the conference, this was a rough year and it’s totally their prerogative to make a change. And if they handle it right, they could be back very quickly. You want to move in another direction. Maybe you feel like the program needs new leadership. That’s fine. I’d argue that he deserved another year, but it’s your program, your decision. But have mercy. Seriously, have some mercy. Just because you’re relieving him of his job, doesn’t mean you need to relieve him of every job ever again. I mean the guy might like to coach somewhere at some point, but that’s not going to make it any easier.
The college coaching game is hard. Everyone’s just one bad year away from getting fired and apparently then getting torched in a statement.