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Rumors circulating connecting former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich to Texas

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So far there is some smoke, but it’s not clear if there’s any fire.

NCAA Football: Oregon at Oregon State Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, NCAA rule changes will allow the Texas Longhorns to add a 10th assistant coach to Tom Herman’s staff and the hot name on Saturday is former Oregon Ducks head coach Mark Helfrich.

Athletic director Chris Del Conte described what the Austin American-Statesman called “internet reports” as mere “rumors.”

“Tom and I have not had any discussion about it,” Del Conte said. “As far as the rumors being bantered around, those are just rumors. Tom and I have not had any discussions about who the possible 10th coach could be.”

Adding Helfrich to the Texas staff could allow current coordinator Tim Beck to focus on coaching the quarterbacks or serve as a way to effectively reassign Beck without simply terminating him. Or it’s possible that both coaches could work together next season as co-coordinators.

Helfrich is an intriguing name because of his experience as the head coach at Oregon from 2013-2016, ultimately leading the Ducks to 37 wins during that stretch. Prior to assuming the head coaching role, Helfrich was the offensive coordinator for Chip Kelly, but didn’t call plays.

Still only 44 years old, Helfrich was at one point the youngest offensive coordinator at the BCS level when he joined the Colorado program in 2006.

Prior to the Texas Bowl, Herman wasn’t sure if he would hire an offensive or a defensive coach — Texas currently has five offensive assistants and four defensive assistants.

“I’ve thought about it,” Herman said several weeks ago. “Initially, I thought about a defensive guy to even out the staff, but I think it’s kind of like recruiting a little bit. You almost want to go best available.”

Helfrich could certainly be a quality addition as a recruiter for the Longhorns — Herman’s No. 1 requirement for the position — and might be the single best available coach, but the area of recruiting where Texas needs the most help is probably along the defensive line. Based on the results in the 2017 and 2018 classes, position coach Oscar Giles has been rather underwhelming as a recruiter.