Give em’ Hel: The Hometown Hero

Mark Helfrich 14, Arizona,14,KC

Who is the greatest coach in Oregon history? That answer is obvious isn’t it? It’s the man who went 11-2 in his first year as head coach and then lead Oregon to a National Championship in his second year as a head coach only to lose to an SEC coach running the spread option. No I’m not talking about Chip Kelly (who went 10-3 in his first season since he lost the Rose Bowl) but rather about our current head coach, Mark Helfrich.

Chip may have started it but Helfrich has run with it.

Kevin Cline

Chip may have started it but Helfrich has run with it.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing Helfrich is doing with Oregon would be possible without Kelly laying the foundation, but just as Steve Young is often considered the better QB over Joe Montana, I think the same applies to Helfrich and Kelly. Helfrich was able to evolve Oregon’s offense into a balanced offense, incorporating the pass in a way Kelly never could (or at least never did). Now you can definitely say that Chip Kelly never really had a great passer, with the closest thing to it being Marcus Mariota as a Freshman, before he was truly the great QB that he has become. Even if Kelly had been there for the entirety of Mariota’s career I think it’s fair to say that Oregon would have been more focused on the run and not nearly as balanced as they have been under Helfrich.

From video

While this man has a lot to do with Oregons balanced offense, Helfrich should still get credit.

Along with this balanced offense, Helfrich also has had essentially the same success as Kelly had in his first two seasons, with the only major difference being that Helfrich went to a second rate bowl and won where Kelly went to the Rose Bowl and lost in their first years. And yes, for those people who want to point out that Kelly’s Championship loss was much closer than Helfrich’s, yes it was, so? A loss is a loss.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two coaches though is that Helfrich actually seems to enjoy dealing with fans and media. While Kelly was never vicious or ugly to fans or media personnel, he was never as warm and inviting as Helfrich is. This isn’t an attack on Kelly, he is simply very no nonsense and to the point, like Bill Belichick. While Kelly was sometimes awkward around fans and sometimes curt with media, Helfrich seems to thorougly enjoy every moment of being Oregon’s head coach. He routinely jokes with the media and talks to fans around Eugene. Helfrich being the ascended fan and native Oregonian that he is, he is able to relate to fans in a way that Kelly simply never could because he had never been one of them.

Moving Forward, Helfrich could be the best head coach to ever coach our Ducks

Kevin Cline

Moving Forward, Helfrich could be the best head coach to ever coach our Ducks

When it comes down to it though, the determining factor in whether Helfrich is the better coach will not be the past or how similar his past is to Chip Kelly’s. It will also not necessarily be who’s offense is more balanced or who got along with fans and media better. While all of these things are important and can tell us about each man as a coach, the determining factor to show if Helfrich is truly the better coach, will be the future. If Mark Helfrich does what no other Oregon coach has done before and wins a College National Championship, he will be the better coach in my mind, and hopefully in many other Oregon fan’s minds.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Noah Smith

Noah Smith

Noah is an undergraduate student from just outside of New Orleans, Louisiana. Noah is currently pursuing a communications degree with the goal of becoming a sports journalist. Noah is a die hard Duck fan, mainly because of his obsession with football's X's and O's. In his free time he enjoys watching both pro and college football games,playing and listening to music, and drawing up his own playbooks.

  • Cody

    Nobody should consider Steve Young a better quarterback than Joe Montana. That said, I’ll buy that Helfrich could ultimately be better than Kelly. But give it a few more years.

    • Noah James Smith

      Nonetheless many do consider Young the better QB because of his athletic ability and the fact that Montana had a much more complete team around him.

      I fully agree that it will take more time for us to be able to tell if Helfrich or Kelly is better. I personally think he will be the more beloved coach just because of his personality and being an ascended Oregon fan.

  • Petersendavey

    I think good is decided at the year level, very good is decided at three to five years, beyond that can be great, and the stuff of legends is reached at the decade level