The P.J. Fleck sweepstakes has begun.

Oh, and Purdue fired Darrell Hazell on Sunday. Fleck's availability almost trumps the firing because Purdue immediately becomes the most logical landing place for Western Michigan's coach.

If not, then why would Purdue fire its coach halfway through the season? It isn't necessarily for recruiting. It's for the same reason LSU canned Les Miles after four games. Purdue wants to pursue its next coach in an open and transparent way.

The job has to be attractive to Fleck and others: Big Ten, some history of success. Word is that state officials have committed financially to bring Purdue into the 21st century in terms of facilities, etc.

That means a 35-year-old coach who has Western Michigan ranked for the first time ever may not ruin his career by going to a Big Ten bottom feeder.

Then again, Fleck may want to check with Hazell and Danny Hope. For now, Purdue should be thinking sitting head coach with an offensive background for its next hire. The Boilermakers need to get out of the doldrums.

For now, Purdue is playing out the string, hopefully trying to land one of these candidates.

1. P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan: This whirling dynamo is the best thing to happen to the MAC since Terry Bowden. Sure, he's a rah-rah guy. And his motivational stuff is, well, different. Fleck is 23-10 since starting 1-11 with the Broncos in 2013. Here's my profile on him from last year.

2. Les Miles, free agent (ex-LSU coach): Crazy Les has told people privately and publicly he wants to coach. For this Ohio native with Big Ten roots, Purdue would be a comfy landing spot.

3. Troy Calhoun, Air Force: I've already been told Calhoun would be interested. The long-time NFL assistant has peaked in the Mountain West. Don't be fooled by the Falcons' option attack. Calhoun is experienced with any offense.

4. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky: Bobby Petrino's successor in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Brohm is 24-10 in two-plus seasons and won the Conference USA title last year.

5. Rod Carey, Northern Illinois: Coached the Huskies to the Orange Bowl a couple of years ago. Oh yeah, and he beat Purdue by 31 in 2013. Possible downside: Carey would be a second straight MAC coach.

6. Brock Spack, Illinois State: Joe Tiller's old defensive coordinator has spent eight years in FBS. Blah.

7. Mike Sanford, Notre Dame offensive coordinator: Tough sell with the Irish now 2-5, but Sanford, still in his 30s, is well respected and already has future NFL quarterback Deshone Kizer on his resume.