Panthers coach Matt Rhule signed a seven-year contract two offseasons ago, but ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit has suggested their partnership could end much sooner than that.
The longtime college football analyst has floated Rhule as a candidate for the head coaching job at USC, where Clay Helton was recently fired after five-plus seasons at the helm.
While early speculation has focused on a handful of potential candidates -- including Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer, who issued an interesting denial -- Herbstreit said Rhule should be "one of the first guys you look at" from USC's perspective.
“I think there’s names — you said ‘make him say no’ — make him say yes,” Herbstreit said on College Gameday on Saturday morning. “Matt Rhule, to me, make him say yes. That would be one of the first guys you look at.”
Rhule was lured from Baylor and the college ranks to the tune of a reported $60 million over the course of his long-term deal.
It's unclear whether he'd be interested in the USC job or any other, but it would seem he and the Panthers are committed to each other, if the length of the contract is any indication.
Then again, Rhule left Baylor with many years left on his deal, and only months after negotiating an extension. Plus, a lot will have happened between now and season's end.
Herbstreit also mentioned Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell, who was among the first candidates to be mentioned on social media and in speculative media reports.
In addition to Meyer, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was also asked by reporters about his potential interest in the USC job.