Down goes Rocky Long at New Mexico.

Down goes Joe Glenn at Wyoming.

Down goes Chuck Long at San Diego State.

Down goes Brent Guy at Utah State.

It's that time of year, when coaches become vagabonds and the name-dropping game begins. University presidents and athletic directors are sifting through a flood of phone calls, text messages and negotiations by surrogates as legitimate and not-so-legitimate candidates seek to turn around fortunes of the unfortunate.

At San Diego State, even a closing win over UNLV at home couldn't save Long from the ax. Names cropping up include BYU defensive coordinator Jaime Hill, a native son of San Diego, who could provide the local touch Long couldn't being from the Midwest.

Hill ultimately wants to return home to San Diego, and he's approaching the same attractive job reviews as current UCLA D-coordinator Dwayne Walker.

Other candidates for the Aztec job include current SDSU faculty member Dennis Green, the former head coach of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals. Green, who teaches a sports management class on campus, might be the front-runner.

Another name is Terry Bowden, who led Auburn to an 11-0 mark in 1993 before retiring to become a broadcaster and football analyst. Bowden has confirmed with San Diego media his interest in returning to the whistle. Another guy who has been out of coaching but has ties to SDSU's administration is former Minnesota coach Glen Mason.

SDSU sources are mentioning other candidates including former USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, current USC coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Oklahoma associate head coach Brent Venables and former Cal and NFL coach Steve Mariucci.

Rocky Long, who left the Lobos for myriad reasons, including hitting a perceived glass ceiling in recruiting against TCU, BYU and Utah, is rumored to have been offered the SDSU job before Chuck Long. But for Rocky Long, making a move inside the league for another head job doesn't make sense. He's received feelers from Fresno State, Oregon State (where he has coached previously) and San Jose State for a job coordinating their defenses.

Bronco Mendenhall has called Rocky twice, but the word on the street is it's more of a friend-to-friend chat than job talk in Provo. If Hill leaves BYU for a head coaching job, or even if Green asked him to coordinate his defense if he got the call, BYU would be looking for a replacement on its staff, and that would be interesting indeed.

Rocky Long would be a long, very long shot at BYU.

At New Mexico and Wyoming, it appears the search committees are after some offensive firepower, the hurdle both programs have battled to get over the past few years.

At both schools, the name of Missouri offensive coordinator Dave Christensen has cropped up. The Tigers have staged one of the more impressive offensive attacks in the country the past few seasons, but would Christensen want to settle in the Mountain West?

Other names that have surfaced in Albuquerque include former Utah coach and current Florida Gator offensive coordinator Dan Mullen. And word is, it's his job if he wants it. The Lobos are hopeful, if Mullen passes, that the likes of Oregon coordinator Chip Kelly will want it or perhaps Sonny Dykes, the O-coordinator at Arizona. New Mexico has also received permission to talk to Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach Curtis Modkins.

In Laramie, what to do?

Like I mentioned, the Cowboys want somebody who can teach, execute and produce an offensive strike-force offense to keep up with the league's firepower. Missouri's Christensen fits the bill, but would he leave Columbia and ignore other offers for Laramie?

Other names for the Wyoming job include former USU, Louisville and Michigan State coach John L. Smith. He's still a hot ticket, even mentioned in Logan as a replacement for Guy.

Wyoming would like to talk to former Colorado coach Gary Barnett, who, like Bowden, has taken up the microphone since leaving the coaching business.

In Logan, speculation is running wild about the return of Smith, an offensive-minded coach who would offset the non-sexy defensive anchor that was Guy. Other names cropping up include Cache Valley native Kent Baer, the current linebackers coach at San Jose State, South Florida offensive whiz and former Aggie quarterback Chico Canales, and even Pac-10 coordinators Steve Sarkisian (USC) and Walker (UCLA).

If USU, like Wyoming and UNM, is a stepping-stone job, why not Walker or Sarkisian?

Baer is a reputable, respected and experienced coach who knows the Aggies and what they're up against. He's got folks in Logan pushing his case hard, and he would not be a springboard guy.

Then there is the Gary Andersen factor.

The Ute defensive coordinator isn't talking work opportunities until the season is over, but his reputation is skyrocketing. An Andersen candidacy in Logan would bring back the defensive mindset in a league that needs firepower to keep up with Boise State and Nevada. But good coaches can get it done. Anyone say LaVell Edwards? He only coached defense?

Many of these candidates are not talking publicly, but their proxies have texted behind the scenes until thumbs are raw.

It will be an interesting stretch of hires after the fires in coming weeks.

94 comments on this story Stay tuned.


E-mail: harmon@desnews.com