Texas Tech is going to rue the decision not to give coach Mike Leach the contract extension he wanted before the season.
Now, riding the crest of a 9-0 start and coming off the biggest victory in school history, Leach may be the nation's hottest commodity. Expect Leach to become a top target at Tennessee now that the Phillip Fulmer era is over.
Tennessee will have competition for Leach, who also will be in the crosshairs at Clemson and Washington. Leach has come close to leaving Lubbock in the past, being involved heavily at Stanford and BYU when those posts came open in recent years. But neither could pay enough.
In addition to Leach, expect Tennessee A.D. Mike Hamilton to talk to Boise State coach Chris Petersen, former Oakland Raiders coach Lane Kiffin and Minnesota coach Tim Brewster. It's also believed Hamilton will consider an assistant – Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. But some feel the Longhorns will do all they can to retain Muschamp and groom him to be the successor to Mack Brown.
Catch a ride on the coaching carousel
• Since news broke that Syracuse has hired a search firm even though coach Greg Robinson hasn't been fired, there has been a tight lid on the early front-runners. Some names are flying around. Notre Dame wide receivers coach Rob Ianello, Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, Buffalo coach Turner Gill, Florida offensive line coach Steve Adazzio and Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Morninwheg look like early leaders. Don't be shocked if Massachusetts coach Mark Whipple enters the picture. Two assistants who make sense are Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly and Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. Both are offensive-minded guys with plenty of recruiting ties along the Eastern Seaboard.
• The Washington search looks to be secretive, along the lines of the hush-hush search Iowa State A.D. Jamie Pollard did a few years ago before hiring Gene Chizik. Washington president Mark Emmert and A.D. Scott Woodward are working closely together on the identifying candidates, letting few – if any – other people in on the process. A search firm from Los Angeles has been hired to assist Washington in the process. Expect Emmert and Woodward to cast a wide net. Early leaders appear to be Kiffin, Muschamp, Petersen, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham, Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and Montana coach Bobby Hauck.
• Word is Kansas State's Ron Prince likely will return in 2009 despite his team's struggles. Why? K-State president Jon Wefald is leaving at the end of this academic year and would rather have his successor make the call on Prince. Still, speculation is swirling about Prince. Names being mentioned are Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables and South Florida coach Jim Leavitt. Both coached at K-State under Bill Snyder.
• As mentioned here a few weeks ago, Toledo coach Tom Amstutz is going to step down at the end of the season. The vacancy should attract some quality candidates because it is one of the better jobs in the MAC. Ianello and Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus could emerge as early candidates. Others who could be in the mix are Temple defensive coordinator Mark D'Onofrio, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach Pat Shurmur, Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Doeren, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and Kentucky defensive coordinator Steve Brown.
• There always is a market for experienced coaches to move into jobs that formerly were occupied by a young, unproven coach who failed to get the job done. Should a job like, say, San Diego State open, it wouldn't be a shock to see former Minnesota coach Glen Mason, former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione and Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney – a former Iowa State coach – enter the picture. Kevin Gilbride could be a wild card. He has done a standout job as offensive coordinator for the New York Giants, helping the team win the Super Bowl last season and forge a 21-8 record since taking over the offense.
• If a change is made at UTEP, don't be shocked if Chicago Bears special teams coach Dave Toub – a UTEP alumnus – becomes a target. Toub coached at Missouri under Bob Stull, who now is the A.D. at UTEP.
• Word is Idaho could be contemplating a coaching change. Bob Simmons, the former Oklahoma State coach who was tight ends/special teams coach at Washington before leaving last year, may be a guy on the radar - along with Houston co-offensive coordinator Jason Phillips.
Grading the "Big Six"
Did your school – and conference – pass last week?