Hiring and firing season is well underway, evidenced by Rice's letting David Bailiff go. We don't have any of your coveted "sources, " but we'd like to see if Rice can make a run at former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich.
Helfrich was OC under the Oregon coach Chip Kelly before Kelly decided to make a run at the pros when Helfrich took over as the head coach at Oregon. In his four seasons at Oregon, Helfrich was 37-16, made an appearance in the National Title game and finished 24-12 in the Pac 12. In Helfrich's last season the Ducks went 4-8, his only season to win less than nine games. That was enough for Oregon to move on.
He's an unquestioned offensive guru, whose fast-paced, run-first attack plagued the Pac 12 the same way Kelly's did, though the nuance of the scheme was different. In a lot of ways, Helfrich wasn't a match for what Oregon had become under Kelly. Defensively Helfrich's Oregon squads struggled, he even brought in the program killer Brady Hoke to run his defense in year four. He wasn't able to sustain Kelly's success, but getting the Ducks to a National title game in the first-ever playoff is impressive.
Rice needs an offensive shot in the arm and someone to find and exploit those market inefficiencies that could give Rice an edge and make the Owls a tough out in CUSA. Helfrich would also fit in quite nicely in the Rice academic community, which is, safe to say, unique.
Wonder if a coach like Helfrich would entertain an offer from Rice? So are we, but remember, Butch Davis and Lane Kiffin both moved into the league this season to rehabilitate their careers, and both took doormat programs and led them to bowl qualification and in Kiffin's case, perhaps a conference title.
Would the job be a stepping stone for Helfrich's getting back into the Power 5? Sure but that's the nature of the beast. In the meantime, the Owls will be an exciting team to deal with in CUSA.