Oregon Football Rumors: Ducks Interested In Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck, Despite Not Having Fired Mark Helfrich

Saturday’s 34-24 loss to the Oregon State Beavers brought the Oregon Ducks’ season to an end with a disappointing 4-8 record. It’s the least amount of wins in a season for the Ducks since the 1991 season when the university went 3-8 under Rich Brooks. The situation has led to reports that Oregon is organizing a coaching search despite not having fired head coach Mark Helfrich.

In four seasons since taking over for Chip Kelly, Helfrich has gone 11-2, 13-2, 9-4, and 4-8. He also led the Ducks to an appearance in the College Football Playoff as recently as 2014, but this season has been such a major disappointment for Oregon that the major boosters, including Nike founder Phil Knight, are ready to move on and find a big-name coach.

If you ask Helfrich’s players, though, their head coach deserves to keep his job after only one bad season, according to 247 Sports.

“Why get rid of a guy after one bad season,” said Charles Nelson.

“Just being able to get the right players for the right system, continuing to get better, I know we had a lot of young guys and injuries on this year’s team, I think Helfrich is the guy,” said Cameron Hunt.

“He’s done a lot of great things here. He’s definitely built a lot of different things since I have been here,” said Royce Freeman of Helfrich. “A lot of positivity comes from him, a lot of players feed off that.”

“This is not all on Helfrich, this is not all on Helfrich,” said junior Tyree Robinson. “We respect Helfrich and the end of the day we’re going to play for him. But’s more than that. It’s [the] players, it’s not just the coaches. My freshman year we had guys like Ifo [Ekpre-Olomu], [Erick] Dargan, Hroniss [Grasu], it was multiple leaders. I think now it’s just probably like two or three guys and we can’t have that because it shows.”

As for Helfrich himself, he understands why he’s on the hot seat.

“I don’t make that determination,” said Mark Helfrich following the loss to Oregon State. “Nobody’s job is safe in college football. That is the nature of the beast.”

“Didn’t win enough games, that’s blunt,” said Helfrich when asked for his opinion on the season.

“That’s a fact. We have to own that part of it. We have to own the solution.”

As for who could possibly replace Helfrich at Oregon, there really hasn’t been a ton of names rumored. SECCountry.com is reporting that Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen could be an option for the Ducks. The 44-year-old has compiled a 60-42 record in eight seasons as the head coach of the Bulldogs, but has yet to turn Mississippi State into a consistent contender in the SEC.

The other name connected most consistently to the Oregon job is Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. Fleck just led the Broncos to a perfect 12-0 regular season and has them in the MAC Championship Game against the Ohio Bobcats next Friday night. P.J.’s motivational tactics are second-to-none as he’s coined the phrase “Row the Boat” in order to keep his team focused and on track when things aren’t going well.

It’s been rumored that Fleck is almost a shoe-in to take the open job at Purdue, but John Canzano, who writes for The Oregonian, says that his sources are saying that P.J. would certainly be interested in the Oregon job if Mark Helfrich is indeed fired.

[Featured Image by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images]

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