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October 28, 2008

Time could be right for Foster to move on

MORE: Dienhart's Weekly Awards | Rivals.com Week 9 National Awards | Olin's Heisman Ballot

The time may be right for Bud Foster finally to leave Frank Beamer's side.

Foster has done all he can, forging a rep as the best defensive coordinator in his 22 seasons at Virginia Tech. If you connect the dots, a Foster-Clemson marriage makes perfect sense. Foster is an intense and passionate coach who knows how to build and operate a big-time program. And he is well-connected in ACC recruiting circles.

Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will be a main contender for the job at Clemson. Interviews could start at any time in a search that's being led by Carr Sports Associates, which is headed by former Florida athletic director Bill Carr. Muschamp also likely will be a contender at Auburn if a coaching change is made there. And in a twist, don't be surprised if Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville becomes a top target if he's out on the Plains.

In addition to Muschamp, expect Clemson – which could pay up to $2.5 million per year to its new coach – also to give hard looks to Tulsa's Todd Graham, Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson and TCU's Gary Patterson.

Interim coach Dabo Swinney could claim the post if he finishes with a flourish. He is a favorite of Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips, but there may be too much pressure on Phillips to bring in someone from the outside.

It looks as if Lane Kiffin is a remote possibility.

Will a minority candidate get involved? Probably not.

TOM'S TOP 13
1. Texas
2. Alabama
5. Florida
6. USC
8. Georgia
9. Utah
10. TCU
13. Missouri
ONE MAN'S WORKING HEISMAN BALLOT
1. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
2. Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
3. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

Auburn price tag would be hefty

With the wheels coming off at Auburn this season, it seems more likely a change could be made. The problem for the Auburn brass: Tuberville has a $6 million buyout.

Should Auburn turn the page, guys such as Muschamp and Graham will be on the radar. And there also is scuttlebutt that Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson and USF's Jim Leavitt could become factors. Three wild-card names: South Carolina's Steve Spurrier, North Carolina's Butch Davis and Wake Forest's Jim Grobe.

Leach on the move?

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach will be a wild card in any coaching searches. He has augmented his already impressive résumé by putting together what has been a spectacular 2008 season. Leach was denied a contract extension in the offseason; the Tech brass told him to wait until after the season. Now, Leach's stock is rising even higher and he figures to become a hot commodity.

If Tech wants to keep Leach, it likely will cost a lot of money. Even if Tech ponies up, don't be shocked if Leach still leaves after nine seasons in Lubbock.

Carroll, Niners not a good fit

With the San Francisco 49ers' coaching job open, some may start to speculate that USC's Pete Carroll will be a player for the post. Don't believe it. The 49ers aren't structured to fit Carroll's demands of total control.

Will Long return at SDSU?

The statements by San Diego State athletic director Jeff Schemmel that Chuck Long will be back in 2009 seem dubious. But the school may not have the money to buy out Long, who is 8-24 in his third season on the job. If a change is made, this job may be a good fit for an established coach such as Glen Mason.

West safe at Memphis

Those close to Memphis coach Tommy West say that his job is safe. He signed an extension last summer, pushing his deal through 2012. Still, it's vital Memphis has a strong football program if it ever wishes to attain its dream of entering the Big East.

GRADING THE "BIG SIX"

Did your school – and conference – pass last week?

ACC
A: Duke, Florida State, North Carolina, Virginia
B: Maryland, Miami
C: Boston College, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
D: N.C. State
F: Georgia Tech

Big East
A: Louisville, Rutgers, Connecticut, West Virginia
C: South Florida
D: Cincinnati
F: Pittsburgh

Big 12
A: Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech
B: Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas
C: Baylor
D: Kansas State
F: Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas

Big Ten
A: Indiana, Michigan State, Penn State
B: Ohio State, Wisconsin
C: Minnesota
D: Illinois, Michigan
F: Northwestern, Purdue

Pac-10
A: California, Oregon
C: USC
D: Arizona, UCLA
F: Arizona State, Washington

SEC
A: Alabama, Florida, Georgia
B: Ole Miss
C: Mississippi State
D: Arkansas
F: Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

MORE: Dienhart's Weekly Awards | Rivals.com Week 9 National Awards | Olin's Heisman Ballot

Tom Dienhart is a national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.



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