The NFL

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With pro teams mov­ing to­ward col­lege con­cepts of­fen­sively and want­ing to ex­tract max­i­mum value from young, cheap quar­ter­backs by play­ing them early, there is ex­pected to be more in­ter­est than usual in col­lege coaches.

Though Ok­la­homa’s Lin­coln Ri­ley will be a hot name for the Browns job, par­tic­u­larly given his con­nec­tion to Baker May­field, it’s a long shot that he’ll ac­tu­ally leave Ok­la­homa. An­other col­lege name that has bounced around the ru­mor mill for Cleve­land is Iowa State’s Matt Camp­bell, an Ohio na­tive with deep roots in the state. Bay­lor’s Matt Rhule got an in­ter­view in In­di­anapo­lis last year, and the pro­gram’s im­prove­ment (the Bears are 5-4 go­ing into the fi­nal three games) could in­spire teams to take an­other look.

Michi­gan’s Jim Har­baugh will be con­nected to NFL open­ings ev­ery year un­til he takes one. And with Notre Dame 9-0 and pos­si­bly Play­off bound, ex­pect an­other round of NFL spec­u­la­tion to hit Brian Kelly, who has es­tab­lished im­pres­sive sta­bil­ity af­ter some tur­bu­lent sea­sons. Stan­ford’s David Shaw has shown no real in­cli­na­tion to jump to the NFL.

Jeff Brohm’s de­ci­sion

With Louisville sink­ing deeper into the abyss ev­ery week, it be­comes in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a sce­nario in which Bobby Petrino re­turns in 2019. The play here for Louisville is no se­cret. Pur­due’s Jeff Brohm is a ris­ing star and a fa­vorite son, and the pull to go home (par­tic­u­larly for his fam­ily and those around him) will be sig­nif­i­cant. By the same to­ken, don’t be sur­prised if Brohm winds up on some NFL lists — he was a backup quar­ter­back in the league for nearly a decade — or be­comes the pri­mary tar­get for Notre Dame or Ohio State, should ei­ther job come open.

In other words, Brohm is go­ing to have op­tions, a re­al­ity not lost on Pur­due ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Mike Bobin­ski. While there’s a chance he could stay, Pur­due’s fi­nan­cial lim­its will be tested if Louisville comes in ag­gres­sively af­ter Brohm.

The state of Kansas

Make no mis­take, Jeff Long was hired this sum­mer as ath­let­ics di­rec­tor for one rea­son: to fix foot­ball. So to think that he hasn’t spent the last few months work­ing dili­gently on a plan to re­place Beaty would be fool­ish.

Mul­ti­ple peo­ple fa­mil­iar with Long’s think­ing in­sist his fo­cus has been on ex­pe­ri­enced head coaches who aren’t work­ing this sea­son and that an an­nounce­ment on a re­place­ment could come well be­fore the end of the sea­son. That would al­low the new staff to get a run­ning start in re­cruit­ing, par­tic­u­larly with the De­cem­ber sign­ing pe­riod play­ing such a big fac­tor now in coach­ing changes.

The early spec­u­la­tion has fo­cused on for­mer LSU coach Les Miles. Miles and Long over­lapped at Michi­gan in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and Long tar­geted Miles in 2012 when he was the ath­let­ics di­rec­tor at Arkansas (Miles got an ex­ten­sion, and Long hired Bret Bielema).

An­other name to watch is ex-Ari­zona State coach Todd Gra­ham, who is an es­tab­lished win­ning col­lege coach and would bring an ex­cit­ing of­fense plus Texas re­cruit­ing ties. Oth­ers who fit the pro­file in­clude Butch Jones and Gene Chizik.

This could be a rare year where Kansas and Kansas State change coaches.

Though Bill Sny­der, 79, has amassed the power to hang on as long as he wants, a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to stage a grace­ful exit is be­com­ing smaller. No­body will say it pub­licly be­cause he’s such a leg­end, but there’s been fear about Sny­der mak­ing his re­tire­ment a pro­tracted be­hind-the-scenes fight, con­tin­gent on his son Sean be­ing named his suc­ces­sor.

With Kansas State 3-6 over­all and 1-5 in the Big 12, there seems to be more mo­men­tum be­hind the idea that this will be Sny­der’s last sea­son. But un­til he an­nounces it pub­licly, you never know.

Bielema, a for­mer K-State de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor, could be a fit here. North Dakota State’s Chris Klie­man, who has three Foot­ball Cham­pi­onship Se­ries na­tional ti­tles, has a strong con­nec­tion to Wild­cats ath­let­ics di­rec­tor Gene Tay­lor.

Other nuggets

❚ No­body has a great grasp of what’s go­ing on at Mary­land, where Matt Canada is 5-4 as the in­terim coach. Any­thing from re­tain­ing Canada to clean­ing house com­pletely is in play.

❚ Ge­or­gia Tech (5-4) has sta­bi­lized af­ter an aw­ful start, but the last three games are all tough. Paul John­son’s buy­out is a rea­son­able $4 mil­lion, and there hasn’t been much juice around the pro­gram lately. This is a school that in­trigues a lot of coaches.

❚ Some Group of Five jobs that agents are keep­ing an eye on in­clude East Carolina, West­ern Ken­tucky, Char­lotte, UNLV and Mid­dle Ten­nessee.

JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

A high buy­out might be a piv­otal fac­tor in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia coach Clay Hel­ton be­ing re­tained for next sea­son.

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