Exclusive: Mark Helfrich with Dwight Jaynes
EUGENE – University of Oregon Athletics Director Rob Mullens announced today the appointment of Mark Helfrich as the 32nd head football coach in the history of the University of Oregon. Helfrich most recently served as the offensive coordinator with the Ducks.
“We were looking for a coach who exemplifies excellence, leadership and character, and who would embrace what our winning football culture is all about,” said Mullens. “We found that person in Mark. He is a man devoted to his family, to his players and to this University and community, and I am excited to see him lead the Ducks to even greater heights.”
The 39-year-old Oregon native, who served as a graduate assistant in Eugene in 1997, has accumulated seven seasons as an offensive coordinator at two BCS schools and 15 years coaching quarterbacks.
Helfrich becomes the first native Oregonian to head the university’s football program since John Warren in 1942.
“The Oregon football program is a source of pride for our university because of a focus on the student-athlete--on the field, in the classroom, and in the community,” University of Oregon President Michael Gottfredson said. “I am confident that Mark Helfrich has this focus and is very well suited to lead the program."
Helfrich was named Oregon’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach on April 30, 2009 following three seasons in the same capacity at the University of Colorado (2006-08), five years as quarterbacks coach at Arizona State (2001-05) which included his final three campaigns in Tempe, Ariz., as passing game coordinator, and three seasons as quarterbacks coach at Boise State (1998-2000).
It didn’t take long for Helfrich to be recognized for his impact on the Ducks’ offensive success as he was named by FootballScoop as its National Quarterbacks Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2012, in addition to being one of three finalists as its national offensive coordinator of the year honor.
He played a significant role in the development of Darron Thomas, who went on to lead Oregon to the 2011 BCS National Championship Game as a first-year starter, as well as the 2012 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. Thomas became the school’s first signal-caller ever to complete more than 30 touchdowns in one season on two separate occasions, finishing his collegiate career with a school-record 66 scoring strikes.
Helfrich then tutored Pac-12 Conference Offensive Freshman of the Year Marcus Mariota, who not only quarterbacked the Ducks to a fourth-consecutive BCS bowl appearance and a 35-17 win over Kansas State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl but became the conference’s first freshman to earn first-team all-league honors since 1989. Mariota completed his first collegiate season throwing for a freshman school and conference record 32 TDs.
“Thank you to President (Michael) Gottfredson and Rob Mullens for this opportunity of a lifetime,” Helfrich said. “As a lifelong Duck fan, this is a responsibility that I welcome and accept the undertaking that stands before me to carry on the legacy of success that has been created by my many predecessors.
“I have been fortunate to have worked with a number of great football coaches and mentors throughout my career and have utilized that knowledge to help make me a better coach.”
Over the course of his last 13 seasons, Helfrich has played a role with offenses that have ranked among the nation’s top-eight teams in scoring offense six times, the top six in rushing on four occasions, the elite five in total offense four times as well as the top five in passing twice.
Mariota established the Ducks’ freshman record for passing efficiency this season (163.23), finishing seventh in the country as the Pac-12’s leader, while Thomas was 11th nationally in 2011 and second in the league in 2010. Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter led the nation in passing efficiency under Helfrich’s watchful eye in 2005 after the Sun Devils’ Andrew Walter was second in the Pac-10 in total offense and third in passing efficiency in 2004. Walter completed 2002 third in the conference in total offense and passing efficiency while Jeff Krohn led the league in passing efficiency in 2001.
Walter set Arizona State records for both career (85) and single-season touchdowns (30) in addition to shattering the previous Pac-10 record for career TD passes, previously set by Stanford’s John Elway (77). The third-round NFL draft pick finished his collegiate career as the school’s career record holder in nearly every passing category.
Ranking as the third-youngest offensive coordinator in the nation at Colorado in 2006 (and the youngest at a BCS school), Helfrich’s offenses were marked by improvement each of his first two seasons in Boulder.
His first Colorado offense averaged 4.5 yards per carry and featured three different players rushing for 500 yards or more for just the 10th time in school history. His 2007 team was just the third in school history to gain 1,000 yards on offense more than the previous season in the same number of games, and scored 30 or more points five times.
During his five-year Arizona State stint, the program blossomed into one of the top passing teams in the country. In his final season there, the Sun Devils finished third in the NCAA and led the Pac-10 in passing yards per game (373.9 avg.). ASU posted a school-record 4,481 yards passing that season to elevate its five-year total to 18,686 yards (306.3 avg.).
While at Boise State, Helfrich tutored one of school’s all-time greats in Bart Hendricks, the 1999 and 2000 Big West Conference Player of the Year. In 2000, the Broncos led the country in scoring (44.9 ppg) and finished fifth in passing offense (321.6 avg.) as Hendricks led the nation in passing efficiency (170.63) and touchdowns (38), and was fourth in total offense (330.3 avg.).
Born in Medford, the 1992 Marshfield (Coos Bay) High School graduate turned down an opportunity to walk on at Oregon in favor of attending Southern Oregon University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1996. The four-year starting quarterback was an NAIA Scholar-Athlete as a sophomore in 1993, leading the nation in total offense while earning NAIA honorable mention All-America accolades and first-team Columbia Football Association honors in the process. That season, he accumulated single-season school records in passing yards (2,712), total offense (3,196) and touchdown passes (23), topping the 400-yard mark in single-game total offense three times.
He began his coaching career as running backs coach at his alma mater in 1996 before playing and coaching (offensive coordinator) in Europe with the Vienna (Austria) Vikings in the winter of 1997.
Mark and his wife, Megan, are the parents of one son, Max (6), and one daughter, Maggie (2).