By: Matthew Terry
The Oregon Ducks need a change. A powerhouse in the Pac-12 since the late 2000’s, the Oregon Ducks are faltering with a 3-6 record. Head Coach Mark Helfrich has struggled in the past few years after getting to a National Championship in 2014. With Nike founder and famed Oregon alum and donor Phil Knight reportedly willing to put out “$10+ million” for a new head coach to get his team a National Championship before he passes. While I’m not entirely convinced Helfrich gets fired (he has had to deal with penalties from recruiting violations by former Head Coach Chip Kelly), here are a few possible candidates should Oregon determine Helfrich is not their guy any more.
Is it lazy? Yes. Is it likely? No. Does it make any sense? Hell yeah it does. The most famous coach in Oregon history, Chip Kelly went 46-7 with the Ducks, leading them to their first national championship appearance (a 19-22 loss to Auburn in 2010). Kelly popularized Oregon’s spread offense, along with recruiting stars like Marcus Mariota and LaMichael James. Kelly left the Ducks in 2012 to head coach the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly has struggled in the NFL, now coaching the San Francisco 49ers (currently 1-7 with arguably the worst roster in the NFL that’s not from Cleveland). It almost seems like a homecoming would make too much sense. Struggling Chip Kelly, struggling Oregon, two things that had much success as recent as 2012. However, due to the violations Kelly brought to the team, coupled with Kelly’s current $6 mil-per-year contract with the 49ers makes me feel like Kelly will be sticking in the NFL for a few more years.
Fedora, the 34th head coach in the history of North Carolina, has given the Tar Heels success they haven’t seen since the Mack Brown days in the late-1990s. Fedora is 32-20 since being named the UNC head coach in 2012, including 21-11 in conference and the team’s first ACC Championship game appearance in 2015, along with looking to lead UNC to their 4th straight bowl game. In Fedora’s nine-year history as head coach (Four years with Southern Miss, five with UNC), he’s only missed the postseason once, and that was due to recruiting scandals former UNC coach Butch Davis left behind.
Fedora’s teams are known for their high-powered offenses and their aggressive, blitz-first defenses. That philosophy would work perfect for the flashy, stylish Ducks, and with the athletes that Fedora would be able to bring to Oregon, he could have much success in Eugene.
The charismatic, energetic Western Michigan head coach, P.J. Fleck’s Broncos are currently undefeated and looking to make a New Year’s Six Bowl at the end of the year. Fleck was hired in December of 2012, at the time being the youngest coach in the FBS. Fleck has had incredible success so far at Western Michigan, bringing in the highest-rated recruiting class to the MAC in 2013 despite having a 1-11 record. Since then, Fleck has failed to miss the postseason, including a win in the Bahamas Bowl in 2015. Fleck hopes to bring WMU their first conference championship since 1988 this year, with the Broncos currently in the driver’s seat in the MAC West with a 10-0 record, 6-0 in conference.
Fleck’s phenomenal recruiting ability, recruiting the top class in the MAC in each season he’s been there, coupled with his coaching ability, could turn the Ducks into the powerhouse we’ve known them to be this decade once again.