Mark Helfrich vs. Mike Riley
By Colin Huber
Today, we put the head coaches at the Oregon schools head-to-head. Riley. Helfrich. Old. New.
The Case For Mike Riley
Riley is the last-standing coach in the Pac-12. He’s been in Corvallis since 2003, which, in today’s ever-shifting college game, is impressive. (Not included, but important to note, Riley was coach of the Beavers in 1997 and 1998 before jetting off to head the San Diego Chargers for what turned out to be a five-year sabbatical.)
But now, Riley is home (he literally rides a bike to work). He’s a Corvallis native, and seems happy to be where he is. He’s told the media he intends to retire at Oregon State, and all signs point to that happening.
With Riley’s years comes experience. Since 2003, he’s 73-53 overall, 50-37 in Pac-12 play, and has taken the Beavers to seven bowl games. Not incredible, but not horrible. Seven of the 10 seasons ended with winning records, which is saying something for a small-market Division-I program.
Riley’s teams are known for starting slow and ending tough. Improvement and “becoming better men” is what he preaches to his team. Riley’s a family man, which includes his players.
Oregon State has never been to a major BCS bowl game under Riley, which at times leaves fans restless, but if consistency were everything, he’d own the game.
The Case For Helfrich
Not much is known about Helfrich, except that he served under offensive wizard Chip Kelly, now with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He is from Oregon, however. As a quarterback, Helfrich starred at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Ore. He played college ball at Southern Oregon and set numerous school records.
He served as a graduate assistant at Oregon before taking quarterback coaching jobs at Boise State and Arizona State. He then served as the offensive coordinator at Colorado for two years before moving back to Oregon as the OC under Kelly in 2009.
It makes no sense to even dig up the Ducks’ offensive numbers from the last few years, because it’s that absurd. Let’s just say they were very, very good on that side of the ball — thanks to Helfrich’s work.
Helfrich’s college coaching career has come full circle, now at the helm of what has become a regular powerhouse. It’s his first head coaching gig, so will he be able to handle it? Can he build off what Kelly has done?
This one goes to Riley.
Helfrich’s Ducks are more talented offensively. They have experienced players and superior recruiting. But a team can make or break on a head coach — let alone one as green as Helfrich.
My guess is that Helfrich will implement his own style into Oregon’s program while attempting to stick to what Kelly started. He may succeed, but from a pure coaching standpoint, Riley has the edge.
After all, he’s been a head coach before.