Regardless of how you slice it, the state of the Oregon Ducks football program could be summed up in a single word: shambles. And, as a result, Mark Helfrich‘s coaching seat is scorching hot.
Friday night, Oregon roared back from an early 21-0 deficit to take Cal to overtime, to double overtime before falling 52-49 in Berkeley. It was a spirited comeback by Oregon, but also symbolic of how far the mighty Ducks have fallen: a moral victory against Cal of all teams when once an on-field victory was guaranteed.
Now, nothing is guaranteed for the Ducks unless it’s a los as they have fallen to 2-5, the school’s worst start to a season since 1986. They have also lost five straight games, the longest in-season losing streak since it lost six in a row to close out 1991.
It’s the defense, though, that’s offensive.
The Ducks have allowed 600 or more yards of offense in three straight games. According to ESPN, they had allowed 600-plus yards in just three games the last eight years coming into the season. At bare minimum, first-year defensive coordinator Brady Hoke should be concerned for hs immediate future in Eugene.
Long-term, however, all eyes are on Helfrich, including John Canzano of The Oregonian:
Helfrich’s seat is hot. Everyone knows it. We also recognize that despite immense resources, amazing facilities and a decade-long running head start the Oregon football brand is now broken. An insider at Oregon said after the Ducks surrendered 70 points to Washington that the university couldn’t afford to be patient if it wanted to avoid losing as many as 10,000 season-ticket holders for next season.
Helfrich has now lost nine games in a little over a season and a half. In four full seasons under Chip Kelly, the Ducks lost a total of seven games. Chip’s ghost looms large over the football program, as does mega-booster Phil Knight.
The Nike founder visited with athletic director Rob Mullens during last night’s game. Here’s to guessing there’ll be plenty more meetings between the two in the coming days and weeks as they map out the future of Ducks football — and whether Helfrich will be a part of it.