Quick bio: Helfrich is currently unemployed after a 37-16 four-year run as the head coach at Oregon. He started strong with an 11-2 mark in 2013 and an appearance in the National Championship Game in 2014. He went on the downslope after that with 9-4 and 4-8 seasons in Eugene before getting canned following the 2016 campaign. The Coos Bay, Ore., native was previously an OC at Oregon and Colorado in addition to several years as a quarterbacks coach at various stops.
Pros: Helfrich would bring a big name and instant credibility. It wasn’t a great finish at Oregon, but he ran offenses at the highest level of college football. Schematically, he could be a good fit with what Jones wants to do. Helfrich didn’t use quite the tempo that Chip Kelly did, but he still put up big numbers early in his career with an up-tempo, spread-out offense that finished first or second in rushing in the Pac 12 every year that he was there. While he will have other suitors, he might not demand as much money as you’d think given his buyout money coming from the Ducks. He also brings true experience coaching quarterbacks – something DeBord was light on when hired in Knoxville – including the development of Heisman winner and future No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota, who is off to a promising NFL start with the Titans.
Cons/Questions: It’s fair to ask how much Helfrich rode Kelly’s coattails after Oregon slid the past two years as Helfich got more of his own players in and got his fingerprints more and more on the program. Would Helfrich want to come given Jones’ somewhat precarious job status heading into 2017 and the loss of several key playmakers for Tennessee’s offense? He also doesn’t have much experience or ties to the South, so there would be an adjustment in that area. At least a couple reports have come out saying he’s no longer in play for this opening, so it’s tough to officially rule anything out, but this idea seems to be losing steam.