[I am poking some fun at Brian in the headline of course]
Well the Mark Helfrich / Scott Frost advocates for UM coach(es) should be pleased - the Oregon fan base is very unhappy with them, not just for last night but the WSU game as well. So it should be quite easy to overpay and draw them to the Midwest since it sounds like Phil Knight won't be overly eager to stand in the way of raising Helfrich's salary up from $1.8M to oh $6M (Brandon style!).
Did some skimming of quite a few Oregon boards and they are calling Helfrich very bad names - he has lost Chip Kelly's innovation, the players are not coached as well, the run game is dying, better recruits but worse results, adjustments at halftime are no longer there (guess they forgot the MSU game quickly) etc. Media is piling on as well.
Many here accuse Shaw of just riding Harbaugh's coattails. That stuff goes away after about 2 years IMO - Shaw is in year 4. Helfrich on the other hand is on full suspicion of riding coattails.
To be fair Oregon's OL is a huge mess right now but for those of us who watched the game last evening, that was a total domination on both lines of scrimmage and you just can't win when your lines stink. Oregon's coaches are now saying Mariota is not 100% either.
Anyhow some sampling from various stories I skimmed - this is from the media, not even the fans comments which as you can imagine are much more negative:
But what we don't know and can't yet see is whether Oregon's coaching staff has what it takes to keep the Ducks program at the level they inherited it. Gone is the Chip Kelly edge and creativity on offense. Absent are Nick Aliotti's gambling and guts on defense. The overall performance was sloppy. All that was familiar from the most successful Oregon era ever on Thursday were some of Kelly's leftover players and that signature "O" at midfield. That's "O" for obsolete, right now.
The Ducks could not overcome a poor performance on both sides of the ball, puzzling play calling on offense and a lack of effective adjustments on defense. The ire in the stadium, and I'm guessing in your living room, turned toward the Pac-12 Conference officiating. As if it were the officials calling that bland game plan, failing for the second consecutive season to have Oregon ready to play against a more inspired, better-prepared, willing-to-go-for-it-all bunch coached by Rich Rodriguez.
It was a mismatch, alright. Not the players. The guys in the headsets. Arizona exposed Oregon, especially after some careful halftime adjustments, piling up 13 third-quarter first downs.
It's coaching that I now wonder about most at Oregon. Oregon has lost its mojo. I can see it. You can see it. The NCAA football selection committee can surely see it. Can Mark Helfrich's staff regain it? Or are they in over their heads?
No 100-yard rusher, again. A pass-happy offensive game plan, again. Five sacks. Two fumbles. Amid all that, suddenly, a decision by Helfrich on a critical second-half drive to put the ball repeatedly in the hands of freshman running back Royce Freeman and that beleaguered offensive line instead of relying on Mariota. "It's on me," Helfrich said.
There were suspicions last season, even with a 10-2 record and an Alamo Bowl, about whether the program had taken a giant step backward. Losing to a BCS-bowl bound Stanford program you could live with, but losing at Arizona? Now losing to Arizona twice straight? Helfrich is now 3-3 in his last six Pac-12 games. He's 8-3 overall in conference play. Kelly's conference record in four seasons: 33-3.
Right now, the University of Oregon shouldn't be worried about whether it can climb with one loss back into the national playoff hunt. It should be worried about whether the coaching staff has what it takes to keep Oregon as relevant as it should be. Kelly took Mike Bellotti's program to four straight BCS bowl games. He played for a national championship. He made no apologies, and no excuses. He didn't walk off to the NFL, he swaggered away. There is nothing innovative about Oregon right now. Nothing edgy. Nothing mysterious. They're solved, totally and completely. Not from a talent standpoint, but from scheme.
When Chip Kelly took the Ducks to the national title game in 2011, only one player was drafted off that team: linebacker Casey Matthews in the fourth round. And I think most never expected Helfrich to be the next Chip Kelly. It's clear Kelly is a once-in-a-lifetime coach, a guy whose vision and style is changing the game, but I'm not sure anyone expected this kind of slippage. And yes, there has been slippage. Major slippage.
..the Ducks have become a very sloppy unit. Undisciplined. Bone-headed mistakes. Schematically out of position. And that, is coaching. To their credit, after Knight left, the Oregon coaches stepped to the microphones and owned their performance.
I don't understand the bonehead mistakes the Ducks continue to make under Helfrich. For the most part, I think Oregon recruits a high-character athlete. These are smart kids, and from my limited interaction I believe these are good kids. But under Helfrich, silly personal fouls were a problem last season, and again this season we are seeing lapses in judgment.
Regardless, it's far too early to say Helfrich's job is on the line. But discipline, both in conduct and execution, are major reflections of a coach, and right now, those are two areas the Ducks are lacking.