When Chip Kelly was head coach at Oregon, assistants were rarely allowed to meet with the media, so perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that Mark Helfrich mishandled a fairly obvious situation Saturday.
Tight end Colt Lyerla did not practice last week because of illness, but Helfrich used the vague term "circumstances" in his postgame press conference when asked about the junior's absence from the 59-14 win over Tennessee.
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Lylera was less than pleased with his first-year head coach's response.
"I'm really upset with the way coach Helfrich said that after the game," Lyerla told the Oregonian. "Really disappointed. I feel hurt about this. I watched a little bit of what he said, then started reading all of it, and ... it was unfair."
One of the most talented tight ends in college football, Lyerla struggled with drops the week before at Virginia and has previously had off-field issues, so the phrasing of "circumstances" led to plenty of speculation about what that exactly meant. Turns out it was just the flu.
"It made me really upset," Lyerla said. "It's not my fault I got sick. I just felt he could have had my back a little bit more instead of throwing me under the bus."
Assuming this is a 24-hour bug between Lyerla and Helfrich and gets resolved in satisfactory fashion, it is a great lesson that everything Helfrich says will be parsed in a way that never happened when he was merely an offensive coordinator.