How Mark Helfrich Sealed His Own Fate at Oregon in Sunday Presser

D. Louis Thornton Editorials

Despite many columnists already proclaiming Mark Helfrich was ‘as good as gone’; despite Phil Knight long ago eschewing post game press conferences and removing himself from within 2000 miles of Saturdays ‘Civil War;’ in his Tuesday evening announcement, Oregon AD Rob Mullens stated that he did not have his mind made up regarding coach Mark Helfrich when he left Eugene for his College Football Playoff meeting.

Mullens was also asked what ‘pitch’ to him Helfrich made during their Tuesday evening meeting, to which he gave a solid AD ‘non-answer.’


Because Mullens had already listened to Helfrich’s ‘pitch’ on Sunday at his presser, along with the rest of us,

Rob Mullens

Rob Mullens

“I don’t foresee staff changes, I think, you know, I think the, that, hehe, again, I think there are issues that, that everybody knows, that, that, uh, I think the guys that, that are in this building in our program are the best to, to solve those issues, uhm, uhm, …. ”  Shrugs.  Takes a drink.

In answer to how he is a better coach now than two years ago at the signing of his contract extension,

“Well, hopefully I am better, but, not that I know of, nope.”  Shrugs.

But what Mullens actually ‘heard,‘ along with many of us listening at the time, was,

“I don’t foresee that, that, like, uhm, you know, changes to, to … 21 straight successful runs by our no longer little brother rival, allowing over 300 yards rushing; players not in football position, not maintaining gap assignments, bad pursuit angles, wrapping up, uhm, like, you know, tackling … ”

“I don’t foresee that, that, like, uhm, you know, changes to, to …  recruiting classes of 6 total defensive recruits, only 4 of which are still on the team; an entire junior offensive line class that, other than an injured Crosby, has been virtually MIA, forcing freshmen to start; senior O-lineman silly, stupid, senseless, drive killing, momentum losing yellow laundry penalty attractors – ‘I sat him down for a quarter ‘that should teach him a lesson’ but I don’t want to ‘ruin’ his senior season memories by actually playing someone who is not made out of ‘penalty velcro;’ senior linebackers still not knowing how to play against base IZR after seeing it in practice every day for years; 28 yard punts … ”

Stuffed again....

Stuffed again….

“I don’t foresee that, that, like, uhm, you know, changes to, to … choosing to receive every start of game kickoff,  2 point conversion tries without any discernible reason, horrid clock management … ”

“I don’t foresee that, that, like, uhm, you know, changes to, to … uhm, ya, we need better leaders, like, ya, you know, teach the, the players to be ‘vocal and lead,’ uhm, kinda like I, ya, you know, stuff like, uhm …  speak up and be leaders, like, uhm, … you know, in press conferences, that sorta deal …”

“I don’t foresee that, that, like, uhm, you know, changes to, to … 0-21 missing defense, three and out offense, first quarter scores; fans feeling like heading for the exits or turning off the TV’s, but forcing themselves to watch while fearing the almost inevitable opponent scores both right at the end of the first half and at the start of the second, putting the game basically out of reach; heading to the exits in the third quarter … ”

“I don’t foresee that, that, like, uhm, you know, changes to, to … the end of almost every single streak of good play the Ducks had set during the last decade; new records of futility set;  being the only ‘one’ of the 1 out of 430 teams ahead by 31 or more points at halftime to lose; overseeing the almost total dismantling of a dominant decade of Ducks Football that took three decades to build … ”

And lastly; “It’s on me”

Mark Helfrich is a good, likable man.  As a ‘Society of Native Oregon Born’ Oregonian, we all wanted and hoped Mark would succeed for a decade or two as head coach in Eugene.  Rob Mullens, you, I and everyone would enjoy sitting down outside of football with Mark, drinking a beer, going camping or just ‘hanging out.’

But I don’t imagine any of us would hire Mark Helfrich to excite even a Girl Scout troop cookie sale, let alone rally 105 big boys/young men to spill their guts on the field in the cold, wind and rain against a supposedly hated rival, let alone inspire some 60 thousand fans to gleefully open their wallets on a regular basis.

Question to Mullens at Tuesday evening press conference,

“Was your mind made up when you met with Helfrich?”


D. Louis Thornton
Bend, Oregon

Top Photo from Video

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