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Arizona football: Potential targets for the Wildcats if Rich Rodriguez leaves

Where will Greg Byrne turn?

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

With the news of Rich Rodriguez talking to South Carolina about their head coaching vacancy, we started to wonder where the Arizona Wildcats would turn if they needed to find a new head coach themselves.

Here are some of the big ones that you might hear about:

Sonny Dykes - California Golden Bears head coach

Dykes has had his name connected to just about every head coaching job out there for some reason, so he's either really playing Cal for a raise after taking that program out of the cellar of the conference, or he's really looking to leave. Arizona is a place that makes sense, as Dykes was the Wildcats' offensive coordinator from 2007-09 before taking the head coaching job at Louisiana Tech.

Matt Wells - Utah State Aggies head coach

This is one of those younger, hot names that screams a Greg Byrne hire. Wells is 42 years old, and has been the head coach at Utah State for three years, after graduating from there in 1996, and having spent 2011 and 2012 as an offensive assistant there. He has a 25-15 record in three years, but was 19-9 in his first two years. Wells feels like a hire that would be comparable to the Jay Johnson baseball hire - an up and coming Mountain West coach putting up impressive win-loss records early in their career.

Dan Mullen - Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach

Mullen is kind of like Dykes, in the fact that for some reason, his name is coming up everywhere, and the way MSU looked against Ole Miss in their season finale, those rumors didn't really have a reason to go away. Mullen's connection to Arizona is a fairly easy one - Greg Byrne hired him at Mississippi State in December 2008. That's Mullen's only head coaching gig, and he's gone 54-35 in that time.

Gene Chizik - North Carolina Tar Heels defensive coordinator

Some people might bring up UNC's head coach Larry Fedora as a potential candidate, but a defensive guy like Gene Chizik is a more intriguing name. He led Auburn to a National Championship behind Cam Newton, and while it didn't end well, he feels like a guy that would get a look.

Rod Carey - Northern Illinois Huskies head coach

NIU has gone 31-10 in the three years under Carey. The thing that's a little concerning about him as an option is his 0-3 record in bowl games. He dominates the MAC. That's what he does. 21-3 in conference, 10-7 out of it. But, he did play center when he went to Indiana in the early '90s, so he should be able to develop a decent center, which would be cool.

Brent Venables - Clemson Tigers defensive coordinator

Venables has been the DC at Clemson since 2012, but before that, he was working under Bob Stoops at Oklahoma from 1999-2011. Why did he leave? Because our old friend Mike Stoops took over as OU's defensive coordinator. So Venables went to Clemson, and it seems to have worked out well for them. He will be a head coach somewhere in the near future. So why not Arizona?

Joe Salave'a - Washington State Cougars defensive line coach

If you want Byrne to bring someone home, this might be the guy to watch. Salave'a played at Arizona from 1994-97, and was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection. He was then drafted by the Tennessee Oilers in 1998, and played in the NFL through the 2006 season. He then went to San Jose State before returning to Tucson to be the d-line coach in 2011. Since that season, he's been in Pullman with Mike Leach. This is an under-the-radar name that could very well be a guy Arizona turns to.

Any names not on here you would want to see? Let us know!