The 2016 coaching carousel continues. ESPN and several other media outlets have reported the Oregon brass has begun a coaching search with plans to fire Mark Helfrich in wake of a 34-24 loss to Oregon State and the worst finish since the 1991 season.
Oregon is a sexy location. The Ducks have a track record for swaying the top high school prospects in the country, and their close ties with Nike certainly don't hurt things.
With Helfrich's departure looking imminent, here are five potential replacements at Oregon. [divider]
5. Chip Kelly
Current Job: Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
Please make this happen. It might not be as far-fetched as it initially sounds, as Grant Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat thinks Kelly wants out of his gig with the San Francisco 49ers and that it could happen as soon as Monday.
Cohn is clearly speculating, but we aren't that far removed from an era where Kelly was basically a god in Eugene. In his four seasons as Oregon head coach, Kelly boasted an impressive 46-7 record including a trip to the BCS Championship.
The whole NFL thing hasn't worked out for Kelly. Like Nick Saban, maybe he's just better suited for the college game. Some people think Kelly's return to Oregon is a long shot, but how could we be surprised by anything at this point? [divider]
4. Philip Montgomery
Current Job: Head Coach, Tulsa
This name has been tossed around whenever a head coaching vacancy pops up. Montgomery is deserving of the hype, even with a small sample size. The Tulsa front man has led the Golden Hurricanes to a 9-3 record in his second season, and runs a high-powered system similar to the one Oregon has become accustomed to. This may not be a sexy enough hire for the Ducks' alumni and fan base, but it's possible. [divider]
3. Scott Frost
Current Job: Head Coach, UCF
Frost is only listed at No. 3 because there are so many solid candidates. There isn't a more natural fit in all of college football.
The former Oregon offensive coordinator has worked wonders at UCF in just one year. Last season, the Knights didn't win a single game. This year, Frost led them to a 6-6 record, good enough for a bowl game. This kind of turnaround isn't always publicized, but Frost should be near the top of Oregon's list. [divider]
2. Bryan Harsin
Current Job: Head Coach, Boise State
Harsin picked up right where Petersen left off. In three seasons leading the Broncos, the Boise State head coach has a 31-8 record with wins in the Pointsettia and Fiesta Bowls. Harsin learned under Auburn coach Gus Malzahn at Arkansas State, and runs a similar offense. It isn't the high-powered spread concept Oregon fans have become accustomed to, but Harsin has been productive nonetheless. He's earned his keep, and could be a great fit in Eugene. [divider]
1. P.J. Fleck
Current Job: Head Coach, Western Michigan
There isn't a hotter name in college football right now. Fleck completely revitalized Western Michigan, making the Broncos a household name for the first time in the history of the program, bringing youth, passion, and a proven ability to motivate his players to the table.
Fleck's progress at Western Michigan has been fun to watch. Many people don't know the Broncos finished 1-11 in his first season, but they have steadily improved since. Western Michigan is 12-0 in 2016 and ranked No. 13 in the country. Could you envision a Fleck-led squad loaded with blue-chip players? It's scary to think about. We don't know how Oregon feels about Fleck, but he should be the prime target.