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The season isn't over, but the coaching carousel is already full speed

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Is Chip Kelly interested in Gators job? (0:50)

Chip Kelly responds to speculation that he is in line for the vacant head-coaching position at Florida. (0:50)

Last week, social media sleuths tracked a plane -- allegedly chartered by the University of Florida athletic department -- from Gainesville, Florida, to Hartford, Connecticut, where Gators officials were supposedly meeting with ESPN analyst Chip Kelly.

Kelly, the former Oregon and NFL coach, says he was at his home in New Hampshire at the time. Sunday night, reports surfaced that Gators brass indeed met with Kelly earlier in the day.

On Saturday, a restaurant in Knoxville confirmed on Twitter that ESPN analyst Jon Gruden was eating its famous ribs in a back room with the Tennessee Volunteers' most famous son, former quarterback Peyton Manning.

The restaurant corrected the latest #Grumor a couple of hours later, writing that a "staff member notified us that they weren't so sure it was him." Gruden was actually in Seattle on Saturday, preparing for Monday night's game between the Seahawks and Falcons.

It's not even December yet and there are still two weeks left in the regular season, but college football's coaching carousel is already spinning wildly out of control.

There are already seven openings at FBS schools, three in the SEC alone. And there figure to be several more once the regular season ends.

UCLA's Jim Mora became the latest coaching casualty on Sunday when he was fired a day after the Bruins lost to rival USC for the third straight season. The Bruins even came up with a more savage way to firing their coach than the Trojans, who axed Lane Kiffin on an airport tarmac five games into the 2013 season.

The Bruins fired Mora on his 56th birthday -- with his team 5-6 in his sixth season. He had a 46-30 overall record at UCLA. The Bruins named offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch interim head coach for the regular-season finale against Cal.

"Making a coaching change is never easy, but it's an especially difficult decision when you know that a coach has given his all to our university," UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement. "Jim helped reestablish our football program, and was instrumental in so many ways in moving the program forward."

UCLA's decision seems to be a pre-emptive strike in the Kelly sweepstakes, as a handful of schools might be jumping in line to try to hire Kelly. If the Bruins are willing to pay Mora a $12 million buyout to go away, they must have big plans about who is going to replace him.

Kelly had a 46-7 record as Oregon's coach from 2009 to 2012, guiding the Ducks to three Pac-12 titles and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game in January 2011, a 22-19 loss to Auburn. Kelly left Oregon for the NFL after the 2012 season and lasted four years. He was 26-21 in three seasons with the Eagles and 2-14 in one season with the 49ers.

Kelly, 53, is believed to be one of the top candidates at Florida, which fired Jim McElwain on Oct. 29 after a 3-4 start. Scott Frost, who has guided Central Florida to a 10-0 record, is considered another top candidate for the Gators -- if he doesn't return to Nebraska, his alma mater, where coach Mike Riley is on the hot seat.

People close to Kelly believe he'll return to college football after this season, and they say he'll be thoughtful when weighing his options. During an appearance on SportsCenter on Sunday morning, Kelly didn't rule out coaching the Gators -- but that was before the Bruins fired Mora.

"I really enjoy what I'm doing now," Kelly said. "I think Florida is an outstanding program and has had so much success with Urban [Meyer] and Steve Spurrier. I think whoever gets that job will be very lucky."

If Kelly doesn't take the Florida job, and Frost returns to the Cornhuskers, Oregon's Willie Taggart might be another option, even though he's in his first season with the Ducks. Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Florida, and he recruited the Sunshine State very well during his tenure as South Florida's coach from 2013 to 2016.

"Yeah, one week you're getting fired and the other week you're taking another job. I'm worried about the dern SEC West championship."

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn

Ole Miss is looking for a replacement for Hugh Freeze, who abruptly resigned on July 20 after an internal investigation uncovered a pattern of troubling personal behavior, according to university officials. Interim coach Matt Luke has guided the Rebels to a 5-6 record this season.

The Gators, Rebels and Volunteers might not be the only SEC programs looking for a new head coach this offseason. Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin also are on the hot seat, and other SEC coaches might be on the move depending on how the dominoes fall. The Razorbacks fired athletic director Jeff Long last week, and Bielema isn't expected to survive after the Hogs fell to 4-7 with a 28-21 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday.

The Razorbacks might be poised to make a run at Auburn's Gus Malzahn, who was believed to be on the hot seat entering his fifth season with the Tigers. But Auburn has won four games in a row, including a 40-17 rout of then-No. 1 Georgia two weeks ago, and can win the SEC West with a victory over No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.

"Yeah, one week you're getting fired and the other week you're taking another job," Malzahn told reporters when asked about the Arkansas rumors following this past Saturday's 42-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. "I'm worried about the dern SEC West championship."

The SEC hasn't had more than four coaching changes entering a season since 1946, when six SEC programs went shopping for new leaders. (Kentucky ended up hiring Bear Bryant in 1946, and Robert Neyland returned to Tennessee for a third tenure.)

With the way this silly season has started, almost anything seems possible. If Tennessee's coaching search goes on much longer, former Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin might even emerge as a candidate. The Volunteers went 7-6 under Kiffin in 2009, and then he infamously bolted for USC, causing some UT students to protest on campus.

Kiffin, who worked as Alabama's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2014 to 2016, has produced one of the best turnarounds as Florida Atlantic's coach this season. The Owls are 8-3, 7-0 in Conference USA after finishing 3-9 in each of the previous three seasons.

Might it be good enough for Kiffin to even return to Tennessee?

"Time heals everything, I guess," Kiffin told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi during an interview on College GameDay on Saturday. "That wasn't the reaction I remember when couches were burning, sneaking out with the cops to the airport."

Despite the way their first marriage ended, Kiffin returning to Rocky Top doesn't seem as far-fetched as Gruden going there.