PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — If there was ever any doubt, Chip Kelly once again said Wednesday he is not interested in returning to Oregon as the Ducks head football coach.
Kelly’s successor, Mark Helfrich, was fired Tuesday night after a disastrous 4-8 season.
In an interview posted on ESPN’s website, Kelly said he fully intends to remain the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Asked if there’s any chance he will return to Oregon, Kelly shook his head and said “no.”
Among the names being floated to take over on the Ducks’ sideline are Scott Frost, the one-time offensive coordinator for Oregon and currently the head coach at the University of Central Florida.
Other speculation centers on Western Michigan coach PJ Fleck, Boise State head coach Brian Harsin, Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, Florida head coach Jim McElwain, Oakland Raiders offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and Greg Schiano, the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.
Helfrich was 37-16 record after taking over from Chip Kelly in 2013. He had an $11.6 million buyout on his contract with the Ducks.
Helfrich met with athletic director Rob Mullens on Tuesday night and was told was being dismissed. Helfrich issued a statement saying he was honored to have served at Oregon.
“Plain and simple — we didn’t win enough games this season,” Helfrich said.
Oregon had not fired a head coach since 1976, when Don Read was let go after three seasons.
KOIN 6 News spoke to students about Helfrich’s firing, and many said they’d miss him.
Troy Dye, freshman linebacker, said, “I mean he’s the guy who recruited me – came into my house – told my family he had my back, and I had his back. So, I mean, it hurts a little bit, but it’s business, and it happens.”
“I guess it’s sort of a relief knowing that it happened, but obviously no one was looking forward to our head coach getting fired because he was such a big role model to so many of us. [He was] kind of like a father figure and one of the main reasons why a lot of these guys came here, so obviously him leaving is a big impact on a lot of us,” said freshmen defensive back Brady Breeze.
“You say get him out of here. I love Helfrich just as much as the next guy. My dad’s from Coos Bay, [and] so is Mark. It made so much sense to have this guy as head coach. He had so much integrity and was modest. But when it comes to a head coach, you need a character that stands out,” said Noah Wilskey, a student at the U of O.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.