Skip to main content
Menu
Where Oregon’s Fall Under Mark Helfrich Ranks All-Time

It wasn’t surprising that the Oregon Ducks fired head football coach Mark Helfrich on Tuesday night, given Oregon’s 4-8 overall record, its 2-7 mark within the Pac-12 and the fact that the team lost eight of its final 10 games to close the season. Even by the standards of a school that rarely changes coaches, this was a fireable type of season. What was surprising, however, was how quickly things unraveled for the Ducks. Exactly 700 days — and 26 games — ago, Oregon was coming off a 59-20 shellacking of the then-undefeated, defending-champion Florida State Seminoles, and the Ducks were 7-point favorites in the national title game against Ohio State.

Then the wheels fell off. What followed was the fourth-biggest decline — at least, according to the Elo rating system we like to use here at FiveThirtyEight — for any school over a 26-game span since the AP poll ushered in college football’s modern era in 1936:1

More Sports

paine-helfrich-1130

No. 1 comes with its own special circumstances: SMU was given the NCAA’s “death penalty” in 1987, canceling an entire season and severely damaging the school’s football program for years after. Other cases involve a new coach coming in with disastrous results, such as when Southern Miss fell from 12-2 to 0-12 in a single season after replacing Larry Fedora with Ellis Johnson. But Helfrich oversaw the high and the low — even if the high was built from the foundation laid by Chip Kelly during his four seasons in Eugene. Now the Ducks must find a new coach for only the fifth time in four decades, and rebuild the pieces of what was a great program until very recently.


VIDEO: Ohio State’s chances are better than most

Footnotes

  1. For the purposes of the chart, the 26 games had to occur over no more than four seasons, to filter out teams that went on long hiatuses from Division I-A before returning many years later.

Neil Paine is a senior sportswriter for FiveThirtyEight.

Filed under , , ,

Comments Add Comment