Pick 6: Most wanted coaches

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(Eds: With AP Photos.)

By RALPH D. RUSSO

AP College Football Writer

The speculation has already started.

Which coach is going to get this job? Who would be a good candidate for that one? Do you think so-and-so would leave this school for that one?

Arkansas fans have been playing this game since the Razorbacks lost to Louisiana-Monroe in September. Plenty of others have joined in since.

Advice to those fans: Chris Petersen is probably not leaving Boise State for your team, so best to just move on from that wish.

Here are six coaches whose names will be popular when jobs start opening up over the next month or so.

- Butch Jones, Cincinnati

Jones is in his third season at Cincinnati after a successful three-year stint at Central Michigan. He replaced Brian Kelly at both spots and is 46-25 in his career, three times winning at least a share of a conference title. The Michigan native also spent two years working under Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia.

Could end up: Tennessee.

- Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky

At 36, Taggart is one of the youngest coaches in major college football. In three years, he has taken his alma mater from fledgling FCS program to Sun Belt Conference contender. He spent three years working for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford before taking over WKU. After a 2-10 first season in Bowling Green, he's 12-7.

Could end up: Kentucky.

- Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech

The current leader in the category of "hot coach." He's from the Hal Mumme tree that produced Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen. If you're looking for a guy to rev-up the offense, the 42-year-old Dykes is your man. He is 19-13 in three seasons at La Tech.

Could end up: California.

- Charlie Strong, Louisville

After 10 years of being a successful defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida - he coached two national championship defenses for Urban Meyer with the Gators - Strong finally got a chance to be a head coach with Louisville. The 52-year-old has quickly turned around that program, going 21-12 in three seasons.

Could end up: Good luck prying him away from Louisville AD Tom Jurich, but Strong is an Arkansas native so ... Arkansas.

- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State

Another former Meyer assistant. The 40-year-old was offensive coordinator on those two national championship Florida teams. Mullen has been in Starkville for four seasons. It's a tough place to win, and he's now 28-17, and 12-15 in the SEC.

Could end up: Somewhere else in the SEC.

- Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois

The former Wisconsin defensive coordinator is 18-4 in two seasons coaching the Huskies. Doeren, 41, took over a good program, left behind by Jerry Kill, and won a Mid-American Conference title last year.

Could end up: Purdue.

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Extra point

Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville is an Arkansas native and former Auburn and Mississippi coach who will inevitably be mentioned as a candidate for SEC jobs. Art Briles of Baylor is another spread-offense guru, though the post-Robert Griffin Bears might make him look less desirable.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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