Though it doesn’t play out publicly until this time of year, the college football coaching carousel really started months ago. Even before the first games were played, the machinery for the industry was in motion as agents and search firms began to align ideas on which jobs might open and which coaches might fill them.

Much of that groundwork, of course, never comes to pass. While some moves are telegraphed weeks ahead of time, the results of the season lend themselves to some unexpected outcomes. Few would have guessed in August that both Florida State and Arkansas would part with their coaches before they reached the end of their second seasons. Likewise, it would have been difficult to predict that Clay Helton would be sitting here in late November with a legitimate chance of returning to Southern Cal in 2020. 

Lane Kiffin, completing his third season at Florida Atlantic, could be a candidate for the head coach opening at Arkansas.

Regardless, months of speculation and back-channel communication will come to a head over the next several days as the regular season ends and schools announce their coaching changes, a transition that takes on an even greater urgency with the Dec. 18-20 early recruiting period looming. 

Here are the five questions that are being discussed within college athletics this week, with information culled from seven people across the coaching industry who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic. 

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