Helfrich enjoys big payday with Pac-12 title
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It was a memorable night for the Ducks.
And a lucrative day at the office for Mark Helfrich.
Oregon’s second-year coach will receive a $100,000 bonus for winning a Pac-12 championship and will receive a $125,000 bonus if the Ducks are selected for the College Football Playoff today.
Oregon, ranked No. 2 by the selection committee last week, is expected to be chosen to play in a national semifinal on Jan. 1 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
Helfrich would receive a $250,000 bonus if the Ducks went on to win the national championship on Jan. 12 in Arlington, Texas.
After Friday night’s 51-13 victory over Arizona in the Pac-12 championship at Levi’s Stadium, Helfrich’s record since replacing Chip Kelly is 23-3 (.885).
INJURY UPDATES: Oregon captured its first conference championship since 2011 even though starting tight end Pharaoh Brown, all-American center Hroniss Grasu, preseason starting left tackle Tyler Johnstone and running back Thomas Tyner were out with injuries.
“This team has shown that we have a really strong backbone,” linebacker Tyson Coleman said when asked about the Ducks’ ability to overcome adversity this season. “Shout out to Pharaoh Brown. He’s as big a part of this as anybody.”
Brown watched the game from Cleveland while recovering from a season-ending leg injury sustained on Nov. 8 at Utah. Grasu missed his third consecutive game and was on crutches. Johnstone, out all season with a torn ACL, carried the Pac-12 championship trophy into the locker room. Tyner did not make the trip.
The injury bug bit offensive tackle Andre Yruretagoyena, who was carted off in the fourth quarter after appearing to re-injure his lower leg.
Wide receiver Keanon Lowe played wearing a knee brace after missing the Civil War. Placekicker Aiden Schneider suited up after missing the two previous games and was 3-for-4 on field goals. Matt Pierson, who returned from injury a week ago in the Civil War, made his first start at left guard.
MARIOTA MILESTONE: Marcus Mariota grew up watching Matt Leinart winning big games. Oregon’s star quarterback passed the Trojans’ 2004 Heisman Trophy winner for second on the Pac-12’s all-time list for touchdown passes.
After throwing for two TDs in the conference title game, Mariota now has 101 career touchdown passes. Leinart had 99 touchdown passes from 2003-05.
NOTABLE: Oregon leads the all-time series 25-16 after snapping a two-game losing streak to the Wildcats. This was the first meeting between the two programs outside of Eugene or Tucson since 1961, when Arizona beat the Ducks 15-6 in Portland.
QUOTABLE: “I love all my children the same,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said when asked before the game if he was pulling for the Ducks to guarantee the conference was represented in the College Football Playoff. “That’s what I say at home and that’s what I say in the conference office.”
Scott added that he thought a two-loss Arizona would also have a strong argument to be included in the final four.