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Mark Helfrich a man of fewer words

Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Oregon Ducks coach Mark Helfrich responds to a question Sunday during a press conference leading up to the national championship game against Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes.DALLAS — University of Oregon coach Mark Helfrich walked into the final press conference before the national championship game in front of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Helfrich then proceeded to take a backseat to Meyer during the rest of Sunday's half-hour session.

Meyer was intense and fiery-eyed, coming across like a bad-boy action hero in the vein of Jax Teller in the TV show, “Sons of Anarchy.”

Helfrich was calm and reserved, coming across like a martial arts hero in the vein of Kwai Chang Caine, in the TV show “Kung Fu.”

A large percentage of the questions addressed to individual coaches were for Meyer. Numerous times, when questions were addressed to both coaches, Meyer answered first, and the press conference moderator went on without allowing Helfrich to answer.

Helfrich did not seem disappointed, though. With the national championship game on Monday, the second-year Ducks coach was happy to talk as little as possible.

Here is a rundown of the questions Helfrich was actually given a chance to answer:

Question: Do you ever think about how your life changed when you moved back to Oregon after being the offensive coordinator for Colorado?

Helfrich: Oh, yeah. I've had a lot of dumb luck and just outright luck in my career in a lot of ways, and I think that happens in this profession.

Question: Have you had any conversation with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly throughout the season?

Helfrich: We talk all the time. Text messages during the season is the most common form of communication. And I would say (we have) zero (conversation) on the topic of football. Just a lot of personal back and forth with a bunch of those guys (on the Philadelphia Eagles staff) and with him first and foremost. But it is just personal stuff.

Question: Do you think we will see more coaches like Alabama coach Nick Saban and Urban Meyer stay on for a long time at schools and win multiple championships?

Helfrich: There's not too many guys like those two. Whatever the highest distinction is, it's Hall of Fame, it's icon, whatever those words are, the two names that you just mentioned absolutely qualify for that. That's why it's been a great experience for me to be a part of (this game) and prepare for Ohio State and all the challenges they present. You watch Alabama, and these guys beat, soundly, one of the best programs in the history of college football. I don't know if there's too many Nick Sabans and Urban Meyers just sitting around, but there's a lot of talented coaches in our profession.

Question: How do you prepare your young players for the national championship game? And going beyond tomorrow’s game, how bright is the future of Oregon football with how many young players the Ducks have?

Helfrich: We're going to be inside the stadium today, and a lot of our veteran guys have played here before (against LSU in 2011), have seen the giant screen and everything that's great about ATT Stadium. (We will) get the oohs and ahhs out of the way today so that doesn't take place tomorrow night. And we’re very excited about our future. Things are great both from a football standpoint and athletic department standpoint at the University of Oregon. (Ducks athletic director) Rob Mullens has done a great job. Also, university wise, we're the best, most diverse, biggest University of Oregon that's ever existed. Those things happen together, and so we are proud to be ambassadors for our university. Great things are happening in all phases.

Question: Do you think the new NFL evaluation rules for the draft will help underclassmen make better informed decisions?

Helfrich: How they're disseminating the information is a little bit different than it has been in the past. Basically, (now players are told they) have the ability to be drafted in this round, this round, or stay in school. Percentage-wise, it's a good thing. That's the bottom line is getting those (players) the right information, the best information available. They used to give 90 first-round grades and 90 second-round grades, and that's tough to have. So it’s just getting those guys the best information.

Question: The Ducks have had to overcome injury and adversity this year. How does that make a team stronger?

Helfrich: I learned a lot about our team last spring and early summer just of getting to see how much these guys truly cared about each other was rare. After our loss (to Arizona), we went out and I was out there 25 minutes early and I was the last person out to practice. The entire coaching staff, every single player (was there), and they were out there together. It wasn't, ‘Hey, Ralph, that was your fault.’ It was, ‘Let's fix this type of mentality.’ That's when it slaps you right in the face. You already think you know your team pretty well, but when something bad happens, what's next?

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