Herman for Head Coach 2017

It's not the size of the O in the fight...

Having just stepped out of a screening of the film “Denial” in my new home in Seattle, I realized the title sounds similar to a river in Egypt appropriately describes what this writer thinks has infected Oregon fandom. Right now, as I write this and you later read this, in its last performance, Oregon barfed on itself in Autzen Stadium and the Puppies lapped it up, 70-21. Rightfully or wrongfully, history (read: Phil Knight) has upped the ante, and each season that passes without a natty is a season of failure. This season is no different in terms of the stakes. The only difference is where Oregon currently stands: at a crossroads.

Libby Book

Seriously – it’s great!

An alarming amount of 1s and 0s has been spilled over the state of Oregon football. However, in all of the hand-wringing, soul-searching, what-does-it-all-mean discussions lately surrounding Oregon Duck football, something is missing. And I don’t mean levity, because I haven’t seen a group of ducks this lame since the last Bush family portrait. Don’t try the veal. Some, such as ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg (subscription required), seem to suggest that Oregon’s flaming pile of football is merely a return to the historical norm. Others, including FishDuck.com‘s own brilliant author-in-residence Brian Libby and former FishDuck.com writer, Joel Gunderson, warn against firing coach Mark Helfrich in a fit of fan-inspired angst, lest the ghosts of Oregon football past decide that we stalwart fans of Oregon deserve coal in our stockings.

Our current beleaguered coach.

From video

Our current beleaguered coach.

In a recent interview with Tom Rinaldi, the undertaker of sports interviewers*, coach Helfrich related that the Stumblin’ Ducks might not be winning THE day, but at least they’re winning most days, which is what I assume is half plus one. Well, I’ve gotten a D- in my life, and it didn’t feel good. I can’t imagine that winning Monday through Friday and then getting your keister presented to you by a former Oregon position coach on the football Sabbath is a situation worthy of mention.

But in the same interview .997 is not a good enough winning percentage in coach Helfrich’s book either, at least according to the same interview. Seriously, check the tape. Oregon is apparently losing because the players fail to perform 3 of 1,000 tasks. Perhaps if the coach took some time to work on being less mealy-mouthed, he would realize that the true culprit is consistency. Maybe it’s youth, maybe it’s effort, maybe it’s a lack of grit – whatever the culprit, this team hasn’t looked the same from game to game.

And now we’ve come to the part that’s been missing in this discussion: a way-too-early, uninformed, ill-timed suggestion for the next (Len) Casanova.

My vote: Tom Herman, head coach of the 11th-ranked Houston Cougars, should be the next head coach of the Oregon Fighting Ducks football program. Yes, he comes from the Urban Meyer coaching tree, but he’s done an amazing job at the University of Houston, taking what Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin had built, and maintaining the program’s trajectory with the last two seasons. Herman is a great recruiter that not only recognizes the value of keeping your best homegrown talent at home but also can keep that talent at home (see: Oliver, Ed, not Tuipulotu, Marlon), and win big games. With a resume that screams “Future LSU Head Coach,” Herman has my vote as the future Oregon Duck head coach.

And now, let us finish with this meditation on last requests, as this might be mine:

* (Seriously, look at the list here. PR 101: Don’t get interviewed by the guy that was the first to interview both Tiger after he got Five-Wood’d and Manti Te’o after he got catfished.)

Graham Berry
Seattle, Washington

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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Graham Berry

Graham Berry

Graham Berry (Editor and Writer) is a former Lincoln High (Portland) Cardinal and current tax attorney. He decided that contributing to FishDuck.com as an editor and writer would allow him to tick off one of his New Year’s resolutions and volunteer his time for the greater good. Predictably, Graham enjoys all things sports-related, particularly beer and ill-formed opinions. He currently resides in Seattle with his wife and two cats. Follow him on Twitter: @GrahamRBerry.


    I’ve been saying Tom Herrman or screaming it since last years Alamo demise. He is a future ALL STAR Coach. Yes he gets it and his teams no doubt wouldn’t be laying down when their supposed to be staying true to their gap assignment. Heck we had Nolan in Helfrichs office just waiting to be hired so why didn’t he get hired? Thats a easy one because Mike would of wanted to bring in his own people and why wouldn’t he as his resume in the NFL is a TOP 10 DC pretty much every year he coached the D. They just need to buy out Helfrich and see if they can get Herrman to want to come west to the Taj Mahal of facilities and a Billionaires support to boot. Thank you Graham for the insight and I like you believe Herrman would be the guy to actually go out and get that Championship.

  • Dylan

    Herman’s not coming to Eugene. Why would he? For all of Oregon’s success in the last decade, it’s not a job on the level of a Texas or an LSU. In fact, you could even make the case that Houston is a better job for Herman if it were to get into the Big 12 (although that’s far less likely now, given yesterday’s announcement). What those and several similar jobs have that Oregon doesn’t is a strong local recruiting base. Even if you go out of state to one of the other talent-rich states in that region, you still have the very real advantage of being close enough that parents can go watch their kids play. Any school (possibly even Houston) will be able to match Oregon in terms of money – and I’m not even sure that Oregon’s administration is ready to pay a program outsider at the same level that Texas or LSU would, let alone the sheer amount of money that could possibly override all the other tangible and intangible advantages of staying around where he is. There’s literally no reason, apart from maybe the opportunity to reshape a melted program in his own image, for Herman to completely leave the regions where he has connections and where his family has a life outside of football.

    Also, I wouldn’t sh*t on the Urban Meyer coaching tree. The guys coming out of there have obviously learned from one of the best head coaches in college football history.

    • Graham Berry

      First: not denigrating the Urban Meyer coaching tree. It would just be something of a bitter pill to hire Herman after he directed OSU’s rampage over Oregon in the Natty.

      Second: Herman would come to Eugene because I’m hard-pressed to think of another program that would give him as much control as Oregon would or has the resources to allow him to build the program he wants. As much as LSU is a prestigious job and their recruiting base is second-to-none, the state is broke, and I’m not sure how much funds are available for ancillary spending needed to keep its program competitive, such as assistant salaries. UT is probably a bigger threat. Their relatively new AD didn’t hire Charlie Strong, and UT has been pretty bad over the past 5 years. Also, I think that while it would be nice to have a strong local recruiting base, a lot of schools that have been very successful haven’t had massive local recruiting bases, including Oregon, Nebraska, and Notre Dame. Oregon is a nationally-known name (respected is another thing) that has shown the ability to pull players from the all over the country. Herman isn’t a native Texan, and I’ve lived in Houston – I’m sure that he’d much rather live in Eugene than Bayou City.

      • Mike Green

        the football culture of the state of Texas is all about the Cowboys…

        Univ of Texas is an afterthought

        • ken

          I live in Texas and you are so far off its laughable.

      • Dylan

        I hear you. But let’s assume that money, facilities, and expectations are roughly the same (I’d say that Oregon, Texas, and LSU could easily be in the same arena here, even in terms of facilities). Why go to Oregon where you have to work harder to recruit 3* and 4* guys when you can go to Texas or LSU and take 4* and 5* guys like you were designated team captain in gym class dodgeball? I think it’s rational and downright smart to take the job with less recruiting hurdles, all other things being equal.

        Oregon, Nebraska, and Notre Dame have been successful, yes. But Oregon and Nebraska, arguably, were both successful primarily due to visionary coaches who ran unique offenses that became the identity of the program. That’s not a recipe for perpetual success in a talent-light state and region. I wasn’t really into college football until I went to Oregon starting in ’04, so I’m not too familiar with Nebraska’s history. But I do remember watching a game and the commentators saying that people there were mad that they had brought in Callahan to run a west coast offense that was totally different from what had been run under Osborne, Solich, etc.

        • Dylan

          Hate to reply to myself, but I want to clarify the first sentence of my second paragraph. I think that Oregon’s ability to pull players from all over the country has been based entirely on the exciting, unique offense and energy in the program. Someone may be able to recreate the energy, but the uniqueness of the offensive scheme is gone. The uniqueness of the uniforms is gone. The uniqueness of the luxurious facilities is mostly gone. In order to maintain that ability to pull players from all over the country, the next coach at Oregon likely has to reestablish the energy, and then some. That’s a lot more work than Herman would have to do at LSU, Texas, or even Houston. I just don’t see the choice of Oregon over those schools as a rational move for him when he can have his pick of those jobs.

    • Mike Green

      Helfrich came out of the Chip Kelly coaching tree

  • ChocoThunder

    Maybe the Tooth Fairy should be the new HC of Oregon. Or Nick Saban. Why not, right? Or maybe Belichick will get tired of the Patriots and come to Oregon.

    Let’s try to live in the real world. IF Oregon even makes a change, there’s a good chance most fans don’t yet even know the name of the next coach.

    • Dylan

      I’ve felt for a while that Chad Morris could be a good pickup. He has a similar offensive pedigree, has recruiting connections to Texas and the Southeast, he knows a winning culture from his time at Clemson, and his stock is nowhere near as high as Herman’s. That last one is a double-edged sword, though. He has far less leverage than Herman, but we don’t yet know how good he’ll be in terms of heading the full program.

      • ChocoThunder

        Yeah he’s definitely worth talking to. I’d like to see them interview PJ Fleck and Texas OC Sterlin Gilbert as well – although if any of these three would happen for Oregon it’d have to happen this year.

    • Graham Berry

      Tom Herman is not Nick Saban. He’s an intriguing coach that has taken a good program and put it in a position to succeed. I think it’s important to note that at least some of Herman’s recruiting success has to be attributed to both UT’s on-the-field struggles and A&M’s inability to keep its top recruits from transferring. Furthermore, with the Big 12’s announcement that it will not be expanding, I think it made it all the more likely that Herman will be scooped up by a bigger program. And, yes, I think that if Oregon were to move on from Helfrich, Herman should be the man they target.

      • ChocoThunder

        Herman is more Urban Meyer than Nick Saban; between Texas and Louisiana he doesn’t even need to leave the region to recruit, whether it’s at Houston, UT, A&M or LSU. All of those schools can pay just as much as Oregon can if not more, and he won’t struggle to recruit the way he would at Oregon. I’ll go on record, there’s a greater chance that I will be Oregon’s coach than Herman.

  • Matt B.

    I like Herman but I’m not sure how we land him. He’s making $3M in the AAC and apparently posed for a big if Houston goes to the Big 12. Heflrich is making $3.3 this year and due 3.5 next season in a Power 5. To pull Herman away from Houston, I suspect he’d need something in the neighborhood of Harbaugh or Strong. I just have no idea if anyone, Oregon included, is willing to pony up that kind of payday for him. And he has zero incentive to move, which means the burden is on the party asking him to put enough money in the pot to make him interested.

    • ChocoThunder

      And isn’t Helf’s buyout like $17 mil? It’d be hard to justify paying the man that much not to coach, just to turn around and pay someone else $7mil plus.

      • Matt B.

        Yessir, as of Feb 1, 2017 his buyout is $11,050,000. But I doubt Herman can pull $7M – that’s excursively Saban territory. But either way if we fork over the bulk of an $11M buy-out to Helfrich and are looking at another multi-million dollar deal to land a new coach, we can probably do but someone in Herman’s position wouldn’t it easy.

        • Graham Berry

          The buyout isn’t a problem. It sounds like a lot of money, but I would imagine (hope?) the University wouldn’t be so short-sighted as to force itself to pay $17 mil up front if Helfrich couldn’t do the job. Of course, I’d have to read his contract to even be able to claim to know one way or the other, but the payment terms could mitigate a lot of the pain that the dollar figure might cause. A dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.

      • George Nash Khier

        If Oregon does not get a good head coach to turn things around they will lose a lot more money over the next few years if the programs cannot right itself.

  • Platypus

    You make a good point about the ‘thousand things’. If it’s truly just a few items out of a thousand you would think that would be more then good enough to have this team at 5-1. I guess until MH is satisfied that his team is batting a 1000 they will continue to loose.

  • Mike Green

    fellow fans: we USED to talk about who should be the starting QB, what scheme the defense should use, and recruiting…

    now we are talking about contracts and buyouts and firings and running through walls and motivation and leadership and vision

    this is far too depressing for me – I am only hanging onto the bandwagon by a fingernail

    I think that with the recent success that the Ducks have had, and the fact that Eugene (or Springfield – without the hippies) is a great place to live, the Ducks will get a good hire for head coach

    I think the wildcard is Mullens. I would feel a whole lot better if Bellotti was still the athletic director.

  • Boggs

    I’d like to see one of the following (in no particular order):

    Beau Baldwin
    Scott Frost
    Tom Herman
    Nick Aliotti
    Kevin Kelley

    • DonealDuck

      Baldwin was none too happy with the Ducks poaching VA and his defenses are not strong….
      Frost specifically chose the fertile recruiting field of Florida…
      Herman’s Houston just got blown up yesterday and LSU, USC et al will be too appealing…
      NA is enjoying his PERS and his commentating and recreating…
      Which school is Keven Kelley at?
      PJ Fleck and Brian Harsin two to look at….