Is Your Coach Helfrich Decision “Good-or-Good?”

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

Some of our decisions in life are bad-or-bad such as the upcoming Presidential election. Yet some choices are similar to, “Who gives Royce Freeman a rest … is it Tony Brooks-James or Kani Benoit?” Now that is choosing from good-or-good, as both back-up running backs have done well for our beloved Ducks. Could many of you be in that decision mode when contemplating whether you want coach Mark Helfrich to stay or be fired?

I’ll never forget the first time the concept of “good-or-good” hit me.  It was 1994, and I was standing in line for lunch at Oregon Club – of all places! Oregon had lost badly in Hawaii, and I just watched them get their butts kicked by Utah two days prior. Oregon was 1-2 and “Ditch-Rich” murmuring was surfacing.

The vast hotel/motel the function was held at had a huge parking lot and near the back were two trucks with tons of lumber behind them. I wisecracked to my Duck-buddy about “whether that lumber will be used to hang Rich Brooks!” (Talk about gallows humor!) It was then the concept hit me … “that if Oregon wins out – good. I love my Ducks and that would be wonderful. On the other hand – if Oregon didn’t win many games left – then the AD would fire Brooks, and I was fine with that too.” It’s Good-or-Good!

Rich Brooks as a Wildcat.

Rich Brooks as a Wildcat.

You all know the rest of the story … the first Rose Bowl in nearly 50 years, the Pick and the beginning of Oregon becoming an elite program – all from that day on from standing in the Oregon Club lunch line!

Those close to me know that I use the expression Good-or-Good often in conversation referring to the winning of so many Oregon athletic programs. (Yet that expression covers so many other aspects of our lives.) Sometimes when I reflect back on that moment, I think of it as an instant of progress (adopting the Good-or-Good way of looking at things), and yet I am ashamed with my abject foolishness when considering what I was applying it to.

Brooks turned the Oregon program around; he was respected enough in the NFL to be hired as head coach of the Rams after the Rose Bowl season (although they didn’t give him the chance to finish his work), and at Kentucky they revere him as much or more than at Oregon.

The Wildcats were crappy before Rich Brooks and have been abysmal since, and the fans in light blue know of him as the only coach in their lifetime that brought them winning. And I was OK with firing him at Oregon before it all really came together for him? Geez, I was a young idiot at the time!

If the Ducks had fired Brooks, then Oregon would have never elevated Mike Bellotti who took us to another new level – he would have dispersed to the winds of drifting football coaches nationwide. Where would Oregon be now? The article by professional writer and contributor, Brian Libby, illustrates well the lessons of patience at Oregon. Do you make a knee-jerk change and have the revolving door like USC, or do you have patience and potentially watch your program decline as Washington’s did after Don James?

This is not easy stuff here, my friends.

Are you in the same mode as I in 1994? Is it Good-or-Good with Mark Helfrich? Are you making the same ignorant assertion as I did in 1994 … or are you avoiding the Jim Lambright-Rick Neuheisel-Keith Gilbertson-Tyrone Willingham equivalents for Oregon?

Sometimes it is not Good-or-Good!

Charles Fischer   (FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon

Top Photo by John Sperry

 Disclaimer: Readers: Every writer on is allowed to express their opinion in their articles. However, articles do not represent the views of the other writers, editors, coaching consultants, management, or the principals of Charles Fischer

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