His hiring at Oregon has received less attention than Gary Crowton's interesting arrival from BYU or Chip Kelly's intriguing journey from New Hampshire. Yet Crowton and Kelly didn't arrive months after the first coaching change at Oregon in 14 seasons. Helfrich's arrival has been on the back burner of media's attention, as many people in the state have been focused on what Chip Kelly's inaugural season as head coach will look like. Furthermore, with Coach Kelly handling the play calling this season, Coach Helfrich will continue to work outside of the intense spotlight.
Helfrich wouldn't have it any other way. He's not the big ego type, nor is he a coach known for drawing attention from his antics. Make no bones about it; Coach Helfrich is a hit with his quarterbacks and fellow coaches.
"It was like he's been on our staff for four years. He's been a great compliment… We have also learned a ton from him and he's learned a ton from us," Coach Kelly said. The head man likened the chemistry of the coaching staff to that of his team. Kelly's lieutenants all know that it's about winning and it's not about what Kelly describes as "who gets credit for this, who gets credit for that".
Much like the wide receivers have taken on to their new calm and quiet position coach, Scott Frost, the quarterbacks have taken a quick liking to Helfrich.
"All us quarterbacks are chill, and he fits perfect with us… He's laid back, cool… just the type of coach you need," noted Sophomore Quarterback Darron Thomas. "Coach is more laid-back smooth type of guy. Not going to scream a lot, he's just going to talk to you. It's good to have both of them (Kelly and Helfrich). Have somebody to amp you up and have somebody to get your mind right."
For Helfrich the change to Oregon has been "an easier transition than I thought it was going to be at first". Although he is not known as a "spread offense specialist" like his predecessor, part of what has made his transition smooth is because of vast offensive experience.
"I've run some version of all this stuff somewhere at some time," Helfrich said.
Most of the changes for Helfrich have been with the vocabulary at Oregon, which has forced him to learn new names for plays and concepts that he has known for years under different names.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Helfrich's resume is the lineage of quarterbacks he has guided in his career. Beginning with Bart Hendricks, two-time WAC Player of the Year, at Boise State to Andrew Walter, holder of several all-time Arizona State passing records, Helfrich has shown a particular knack for developing passing protégés. That sort of pedigree mixed with Chip Kelly's "personnel-driven spread offense" creates the possibility of a future air juggernaut of an Oregon offense.
But until then, Mark Helfrich will just continue to blend seamlessly into the Oregon coaching staff, as Chip Kelly put it, "like he's been on staff forever".