Mark Helfrich is on the rebound.
The former Oregon coach has been receiving positive reviews for his work as an analyst on Fox Sports 1 college football broadcasts this season while also spending more quality time with his wife and kids.
Helfrich, who was fired after the Ducks’ 4-8 finish last season, was a recent guest on The Audible podcast hosted by Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated and Stewart Mandel of The Athletic.
“It’s weird, no question about it,” Helfrich said of his relationship with Oregon, which is still paying out his $11.6 million buyout. “It’s the ex-girlfriend that’s dating someone else or moved on.
“Everybody’s had that kind of moment, and at some point you have to move on. I think I certainly have.”
Helfrich, 44, said it was “awkward” returning to Corvallis, the scene of his final game at Oregon, to broadcast an Oregon State game against Minnesota. He was in snowy Pullman for Washington State’s win over Stanford this past Saturday.
“Last week sitting with Mike Leach beforehand, it’s like we’re sitting in a bar wherever just talking,” Helfrich said of interacting with former Pac-12 peers. “I think we talked about football once or twice, I can’t remember.”
Helfrich’s next assignment with FS1 is calling Friday’s Pac-12 North Division showdown between No. 9 Washington and Stanford.
The Huskies followed up their 70-21 win over the Ducks in 2016 with a 38-3 win over Willie Taggart’s UO team Saturday in Seattle. Helfrich remains friends with Washington coach Chris Petersen, who has hired former Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick as his wide receivers coach.
“I think that’s a unique vantage point that I do have is knowing these guys for many years,” Helfrich said. “If you don’t get along with a guy, that might make it a little bit harder, but there’s not too many of those guys that I don’t have a good relationship with.”
Helfrich still lives in the Coburg Hills near Eugene and said his daily interactions with Oregon fans are mostly “positive and friendly.”
Several of the current Ducks, including star running back Royce Freeman, played on Helfrich’s 2014 team, which won the Pac-12, defeated Florida State in the Rose Bowl and lost to Ohio State in the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game.
“There’s still a ton of guys there that we recruited that I care a lot about and wish them the best,” Helfrich said.
Feldman noted that Helfrich has showcased more of his personality on television than he did publicly while leading the Ducks for four seasons.
“Whether it’s the media relations aspect of it, I think there’s a lot of things that we could certainly do better, differently, more, less,” Helfrich said of his tenure as Oregon’s head coach.
Helfrich, who posted a 37-16 overall record at Oregon, said he has had professional and family conversations about getting back into coaching.
“The short answer is: I don’t know. The cheating answer is: It depends,” Helfrich said of a possible return to the sideline. “It has been a lot of fun doing what I’m doing now, kind of getting the football fix, getting to be a much better father, hopefully.
“And then at the same time I do miss the staff, obviously miss game day. That’s kind of a jones that’s hard to find. Then being around the players and affecting them in a positive way is irreplaceable.”