Oregon promotes Matt Lubick to be Ducks' offensive coordinator – OregonLive.com
SAN ANTONIO — When Matt Lubick was mulling whether or not to accept an Oregon job offer in 2013 after three successful years at Duke, he was nervous about becoming the new guy on a staff with some of the deepest ties in college football.
It appears any worries were unfounded.
Three seasons later, Lubick has been promoted from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator, where he will succeed Scott Frost.
“Matt is extremely detail-oriented, he’s a very good recruiter and players really take to him,” said coach Mark Helfrich, whose staff has undergone a shakeup against the backdrop of the Alamo Bowl twice in the past three seasons, after the retirement of defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti in 2013.
“Just tireless,” Helfrich said of the 43-year-old Lubick at an Alamo Bowl press conference alongside TCU’s Gary Patterson. “He was kind of the outsider that came in and added a bunch to it and at the same time meshed into a great group.”
Helfrich, who himself was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach, has now hired both play callers of his head-coaching tenure from within, which continues Oregon’s penchant for continuity by design. The job was vacant for the past month after Frost departed to become Central Florida’s coach Nov. 29.
“As a group our continuity as an offensive staff is a big strength,” Helfrich said.
The promotion of Lubick was expected, as he was viewed as the presumptive favorite to land the job after receiving praise from Oregon’s staff and players not only this past month, but the past three seasons, for his attention to detail. In early December, Helfrich noted UO had “total confidence” in him, and Lubick played a key role right from the start after Frost’s departure as among the first UO staffers to contact incoming graduate transfer Dakota Prukop.
It was Prukop’s relationship with Helfrich and Lubick, said the former two-year starter at Montana State, that cemented his decision to pick Oregon over Alabama in early December.
“He’s going to put forward his best effort first and you can respect that,” junior receiver Bralon Addison said. “There’s coaches out there who expect the best from their people but don’t put their best effort forth first, so it’s kind of hard to respect that. Coach Lubick is always the first guy there and the last guy to leave.”
At $755,000, Frost was the highest-paid assistant on staff by $340,000 this season. Lubick earned $367,416 and is now due for a raise.
Lubick has never called plays in his 20-year coaching career, which began in 1995 at Colorado State under his father, longtime CSU head coach Sonny Lubick. But he’s risen through the coaching ranks at eight different stops, from Cal State Northridge to Duke and Ole Miss, overseeing defensive backs and receivers.
The Ducks have stressed that their game plans are created collaboratively early in the week, yet the responsibility of managing UO’s high-powered attack — which has ranked in the FBS top-10 in points per game every year since 2007 — on game day will still rest with Lubick from now on.
“It will be his first time (calling plays),” Helfrich said, “… but so much of what you do on game day is predetermined. Coach Patterson has his short-yardage situations, red zone sets, all the things you’ll kind of parcel out in a game plan, they’re done. They’re laminated and ready to go. You do that collectively and try to be in the best situation.”
Whether Lubick continues to coach receivers, or whether he’ll switch to quarterbacks in his new role just as Frost did upon his own promotion, remains to be determined.
“We have a plan that I’m very excited about that is probably going to happen” after Saturday’s bowl game, Helfrich said.
Helfrich was less effusive when asked about the future of defensive coordinator Don Pellum. In Pellum’s second season as coordinator, the Ducks’ defense is among the lowest-rated in the country by allowing 36.8 points per game, which will set a school record regardless of No. 11 TCU’s output Saturday inside the Alamodome.
Asked directly if Pellum would return as coordinator, Helfrich wouldn’t say.
“We all have to improve,” he demurred. “Every single one of us. … Do we need to play better on defense? Absolutely. Do we need to play better on special teams? Absolutely. Do we need to play better on offense? Absolutely. That all starts with me.”
Utah assistant coach Dennis Erickson hired Lubick twice during his career, first at Oregon State and later at Arizona State, and in early December said he believed that given Lubick’s knowledge of Oregon’s system, and UO’s penchant for continuity, such a promotion was not only a logical, but merited, choice.
“He’s learned what they want to do and I’m sure he’ll be very good at running that offense,” Erickson said. “They’re not going to change the offense with as successful as it’s been. That’s why they hire guys from within that have been with the system.”
If it already wasn’t clear, Friday’s announcement confirmed what Lubick has come to understand since he arrived in Eugene. Inside UO’s long-tenured coaching room, he’s become fully entrenched as one of the guys.
“The day I walked in, everyone was so unassuming, selfless and just generally warm,” Lubick said Wednesday. “(They) made you feel so comfortable, it felt like I’d been here for years.”
— Andrew Greif