Newly-minted Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich is facing a daunting task in Eugene: Replacing Chip Kelly, who went 46-7 in four seasons with the Ducks. It's a tall order for the 39-year-old Helfrich, who has never been a head coach before. Helfrich has spent the last four years as Kelly's offensive coordinator in Eugene, though, and as he told Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio, he does not expect much to change with Kelly gone:
"We're going to be about 99.2 percent, from a philosophical standpoint, we're going to be identical. I'm a much different person than Chip is but the point eight percent of the time is the stuff people are going to be like ‘oh my gosh this is the biggest thing in the history of the world.' From your Ralph Miller over to Jimmy Anderson, I will give you Rich Brooks to Mike Bellotti, Mike Bellotti to Chip Kelly, the continuity that we have hear is probably unmatched. We have the longest tenured assistant coach in college football in Gary Campbell, Nick Aliotti, Don Pellum, all these guys have been here forever and again this is bigger than any one guy."
Prior to joining Kelly's staff at Oregon, Helfrich was offensive coordinator for Dan Hawkins at Colorado. He also served as Dirk Koetter's quarterbacks coach at Arizona State and Boise State. While those coaches may have influenced him, his scheme at Oregon will borrow much more from Kelly than the pro-style attacks of his other mentors.
Whether Helfrich is ready to step into the head coaching position remains to be seen, but he is confident in his ability to do the job:
"Absolutely and I think I'm ready for it. First of all, I've been a Colin Cowherd fan for a long time going back to Northwest State and then secondly we have a great staff and we are all on the same page of what Oregon football is and the process of how you get to be the national brand that we have become. A huge percentage of that is Chip Kelly, a huge percent of that is Mike Bellotti, Rich Brooks and more, the four or five guys that we have on the staff remaining from last year. The ability to move that forward is exciting and certainly it's a huge challenge."
Oregon opens its 2013 schedule on Aug. 31 against Nicholls State, so Helfrich should have at least one week to work out any kinks.
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