CBS Sports reporter Bruce Feldman tweeted on Tuesday morning that Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez is a target in Auburn's highly publicized search for Gene Chizik's replacement.
Names I heard that Auburn had a lot of interest in as part of "A" group: Rich Rodriguez & Jim Mora.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) December 4, 2012
Chizik was fired just seasons removed from winning the BCS championship, with Auburn going 3-9 this season. The Tigers were winless in the SEC and went oh-for against BCS conference competition.
Rodriguez's name surfacing in conjunction with what is one of the most high profile job openings in this year's coaching carousel is a testament to his success at Arizona. The Wildcats went 7-5 and are headed to a bowl game, despite serious personnel issues on the defensive end and the departure of the program's most productive quarterback, Nick Foles, in the offseason prior.
Auburn was successful in 2010 employing a spread offense with zone-read characteristics similar to those Rodriguez implemented at UA. Of course, that Tiger roster had Cam Newton. The quarterback situation on the Plains is much murkier now.
Feldman's report includes UCLA head coach Jim Mora, who led the Bruins to nine regular season wins and the Pac-12 South divisional crown. FOX Sports reports Mora has already declined to interview.
Other rumored names associated with the Auburn vacancy include Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Arkansas State head coach Gus Malzahn. Malzahn led ASU to its second consecutive Sun Belt championship, and was the mastermind behind the Tigers' 2010 BCS title-winning offense.
SB Nation's Jason Kirk writes Malzahn is a clear choice.
The usual pie-in-the-sky suggestions that surface every year around this time have made the names, those being TCU's Gary Patterson and Boise State's Chris Petersen. Others have speculated fired Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino could be a candidate. Petrino was dismissed after a series of events that included his hiring of a mistress to a position in the Arkansas athletic department.