As Mark Helfrich enters his first season as the Oregon Ducks head coach, he might feel a bit like Prince George will in a few years -- as someone suddenly dropped into a relative lap of luxury.
Helfrichs first head coaching job will see him sitting in the football offices of the new, state-of-the-art Oregon Football Performance Center, which reportedly cost about $68 million.
Helfrich says the new digs are even better in real life than in photos.
Its indescribable, he says. Its better than the pictures. If you were going to make a super hero building, this is what it would be. But, its Oregon.
"Weve officially become an adjective of how weve done things with the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight.
Optimistically, Helfrich guarantees that the facility will have a positive
impact on the rest of the student body.
Its going to help everyone, Helfrich says. With the publicity weve had, I guarantee a chemistry major in Topeka, Kansas said, Wow, I want to go to that school.
With the facility sure to attract the attention of football recruits as well
as chemistry majors, Helfrich says the Ducks must take care to be even more careful with who gets football scholarship offers.
"We have to make sure now we get even more selective about who we bring in, he says.
Helfrich says he is glad that the season and future recruiting can start moving forward without the shadow of the NCAA investigation hanging over the football program. The Ducks recently were placed on three years probation, with some lost scholarships and evaluation days, but no major sanctions.
Its a positive that its done, Helfrich says. The biggest thing was just the uncertainty of it. Whether its what other people said in
recruiting, or in some prospects mind.
This year, Helfrich will hand the play-calling duties to first-year offensive coordinator Scott Frost. Helfrich, who was offensive coordinator for Oregon before taking over for new Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, says he still will have a big hand in the pre-game planning of the offense, though.
Were going to continue game- planning the way we have, Helfrich says. Im going to be really involved in that.
Helfrich says that there are three reasons he decided to allow Frost, the Ducks' former wide receiver coach, to call plays: Frost impressed Helfrich in the spring, Helfrich says Frost is intelligent, and Helfrich wants to manage things on the sidelines.
'Frosty' did a great job in the spring, Helfrich says. Hes a bright guy. We also lost a lot of guys from a leadership standpoint who kept everyone dialed in, whether we were up 20 or down 20. Thats something I want to do -- look guys in the eye and keep them dialed in.
Helfrich says he already has noticed big changes in terms of time commitment as head coach versus coordinator.
Its been a lot different, he says. I need to manage that better. A lot of that was just moving into the new building. There were a lot of one-time things, decisions that wont have to be made in the future.
A lot of guys recommend that you have to get out of the country (in the offseason), get to somewhere you dont have cell phone reception.
"But I had a lot of great family time still. I made time for that. And Im still refreshed and excited to get going.
Camp starts Monday.
I get excited this time of year regardless of (my job) position, Helfrich says. The anticipation of seeing young guys develop and the newcomers that weve never seen before on the field, thats exciting. You never know whos had a great summer.
"And weve got a great bunch of guys who I trust a lot as coaches.