In January 2013, following Chip Kelly‘s departure to the NFL, Oregon elected to do what they had done for decades by hiring offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich as head coach. Nevertheless, an interesting question lingers: What if the Ducks had instead selected defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti as the lead man?
I think most are happy with the Ducks’ current state, but would we have been forced to suffer through the 2016 meltdown to get here if Oregon had chosen to go with Aliotti instead of Helfrich?
First, Aliotti wanted the head coach job and deserved the opportunity. He was a good recruiter and the players liked and respected him. Second, Aliotti could have and probably would have kept Helfrich as the OC. The defense then would have had another DC and likely wouldn’t have gone from the 30th ranked defense to the 113th and then 126th out of 128.
The framework for the eventual success was already there with Marcus Mariota primed to lead this team to great things. Would Aliotti have stepped up recruiting instead of allowing it to stall as we saw under Helfrich?
The decision to go with Helfrich brought us to where we are today. But, what if Aliotti had been hired as head coach instead, and we had just a little better edge to the program with Marcus, and then post Marcus, what if? Maybe a national championship? Maybe Tua Tagovailoa?
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Brad Nye, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a land conservation attorney in Central Oregon.
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