It's almost never too early for college football's coaching carousel to begin cranking up. Recall last November, for instance. That's when Auburn Athletic Director David Housel, President William F. Walker and two members of the school's board of trustees climbed aboard a plane and flew to Kentucky to talk to Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino -- despite the fact that Tigers Coach Tommy Tuberville was still employed. Imagine where the Tigers would be if they had only been able to fire Tuberville and hire Petrino. (Um, well, probably not 9-0 and No. 3 in the nation with a chance to play for the national championship. And Walker might still be employed. But we digress.)

We know the jobs at Florida, Washington and Utah State already are open. There will be others. So the message at this time of year: You fans of struggling programs, be careful what you wish for. And you fans of so-called "hot" coaches -- be they lukewarm or sizzling -- be very wary when your man says, "I'm very happy right where I am."

Here's a look at the guys to watch and a little history lesson just to remind people that change is good -- maybe. How do you figure out who the best candidate is? Pin the tail on the donkey?

-- Barry Svrluga