In somewhat of a startling announcement, Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens told reporters on Wednesday his office plans to conduct a national search for a new head coach and successor to Chip Kelly’s prominent throne as Oregon’s leader in its football operations.
Startling to most because it wasn’t that long ago reports surfaced the Oregon football office offered up Duck offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich as Kelly’s natural replacement if Kelly were to jump to the NFL.
Now, just two weeks removed from Oregon’s Fiesta Bowl win and that announcement regarding Helfrich, the platform of succession seems to have changed somewhat.
Or has it?
Of course, Oregon law mandates the University of Oregon conduct a transparent and thorough job search for any employment position including a new head coach.
With information out there that Helfrich was indeed identified as the successor to Kelly, it was shocking when Oregon associate athletic director of media services Dave Williford announced to the room full of reporters that media reports can’t always be believed.
“Obviously we’re very aware of where we are in the recruiting period, and the critical nature of finding the next leader,” Mullens said Wednesday. “But we’re going to be thorough, we’re going to find the right person and we’ll follow all the policies.”
The continuity of the program was among the primary topics of discussion between reporters and Mullens. Certainly retaining a coach within the current staff would maintain the continuity and philosophy of what Chip Kelly brought to the Duck program.
In fact, Mullens explained it was his wish to continue the same culture that exists at Oregon and finding a coach that understands that culture.
Most would assume the most qualified candidate to maintain that culture is Helfrich. When asked if Kelly made a recommendation to him about the Ducks future coach, Mullens told reporters he didn’t.
“No, he didn’t put in any specific plug” Mullens explained. “He was very clear that he thinks we have the best staff in college football and that there were multiple qualified candidates within the staff.”
( Watch Part 2 of Rob Mullens press conference by clicking on the video box above )