Mark Helfrich

Thought to be a candidate at Arizona, ex-Oregon coach Mark Helfrich is off to Chicago to become the Bears' offensive coordinator.

As one rumored candidate definitively drops out of the race to be the next Arizona Wildcats’ football coach, a new name emerges. Or doesn’t. More on that in a bit.

First, you can scratch former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich off the list of possibilities for the UA.

Helfrich is set to join the Chicago Bears as their offensive coordinator, according to ESPN, NFL.com and others. The Bears hired Matt Nagy as their coach earlier this week.

Helfrich led the Ducks to a runner-up finish in the first College Football Playoff in 2014-15 but couldn’t follow up his success or build upon the foundation predecessor Chip Kelly had laid. Helfrich purportedly is friends with Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke, who also used to work for Oregon (although their time there did not overlap).

Meanwhile, WildcatAuthority.com reported late Wednesday that Western Kentucky coach Mike Sanford had emerged as a candidate for the UA job. Sanford just completed an underwhelming first season at Western Kentucky (6-7) but checks many boxes (35 years old, experience on the West Coast at Stanford and Boise State, strong recruiter).

This morning, WKU athletic director Todd Stewart told reporters that Sanford is staying. The Star spoke to a WKU source who spoke with Sanford. The source said he’d be “blindsided” if Sanford left.

That doesn’t mean Sanford never was a serious candidate for the Arizona job. It just doesn’t appear at this time that he will be Heeke’s choice.

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