COACHES WANTED: 7 job openings for 7 coaches
We're not even to November and the coaching carousel already has started to turn in college football.
Seven head coaching jobs are open, with tradition-rich programs Southern California and Miami among the five available in the Power 5 conferences. Big Ten schools Illinois and Maryland also are looking for new coaches, as is South Carolina in the SEC.
Since there are seven openings right now, let's look at seven coaches who could be among the candidates to fill these and others that come up:
RICH RODRIGUEZ, ARIZONA
The 52-year-old Rodriguez just might be ready to move on after four mostly successful years with the Wildcats. The messy departure from West Virginia and his flop at Michigan are history. The time might be right for him to move back East. He's a West Virginia native, and he's maintained strong recruiting ties to Florida.
DAN MULLEN, MISSISSIPPI STATE
No one was hotter than Mullen in 2014. Within a five-week span the Bulldogs went from unranked to No. 1, and they were the first team since Auburn in 1983 to beat three straight top 10-ranked opponents. MSU won its one and only SEC football title in 1941, and the way that league is nowadays, it might be a while before the Bulldogs win another. Last year probably was as good as it's going to get for Mullen in Starkville.
MIKE GUNDY, OKLAHOMA STATE
Operating in the shadow of Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners, Gundy has built the Cowboys into a consistent Top 25 program. Gundy has gone 92-44 in 11 seasons at his alma mater, but don't think he wouldn't leave if the right job came along. He's had discussions with Tennessee and Arkansas in the past, and he's had spats with everyone from program sugar daddy T. Boone Pickens to his quarterbacks.
MATT RHULE, TEMPLE
Forget that he just signed a four-year contract extension through 2021. Rhule, 40, will be the hottest young coach in America if his No. 21 Owls knock off No. 9 Notre Dame in prime time in Philadelphia this week. Temple opened this season by beating Penn State for the first time in 74 years, and Rhule has the Owls 7-0 for the first time in the program's 121-year history.
MATT CAMPBELL, TOLEDO
Toledo has served as a launch pad before. Just ask ex-Rockets coaches Nick Saban and Gary Pinkel. The 35-year-old Campbell's team stunned the nation with its upset of Arkansas, and the unbeaten Rockets' No. 20 ranking is their highest since 1997.
JEFF BROHM, WESTERN KENTUCKY
In his two years with the Hilltoppers the 44-year-old Brohm has burnished his identity as the purveyor of high-flying offenses. Brohm has been terrific at developing prolific quarterbacks since he got into college coaching in 2003, and WKU star Brandon Doughty might be his best to date. The Hilltoppers are 6-2 this season after playing No. 4 LSU tough for three quarters last week.
JUSTIN FUENTE, MEMPHIS
On the strength of that upset of Mississippi, the 39-year-old Fuente has led the No. 16 Tigers to their highest ranking in program history. Memphis had lost 31 of its previous 36 games before the former TCU offensive coordinator arrived in 2012. Last year the Tigers won the American Athletic Conference and a bowl, and they're 7-0 this year while piling up huge offensive numbers.