The cases for eight hot college football coaching candidates to stay or go

Several fascinating themes are emerging in a college football coaching carousel that figures to be one of the wildest in recent memory.

1. A lot of jobs are open. The carousel counter is already up to 12 FBS coaching departures, including Virginia Tech and Justin Fuente parting Tuesday morning, although three positions (Texas Tech, Georgia Southern and UConn) have already been filled.

2. Big jobs are open and more are likely coming open. USC and LSU both made changes by the halfway point in the season, Washington fired Jimmy Lake on Sunday, and Florida is being closely watched.

3. Many of the carousel's hottest candidates face difficult decisions about whether to leave their current jobs.

This story will focus on the third item. Every coach courted by another school faces a stay-or-go decision. Often these are no-brainers, especially when programs such as LSU or USC say they want you.

But the circumstances surrounding this year's group of top candidates -- and even the jobs open or likely to come open -- make the upcoming decisions especially difficult. For example, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell and BYU's Kalani Sitake have dramatically improved their stocks at ascending programs that will soon enter the Big 12. Fickell leaving Cincinnati for, say, USC, isn't as obvious as it normally would be.

Oregon gave Mario Cristobal a second chance at becoming a head coach when few others seemed interested. Cristobal is building the newest Duck dynasty, as the team aims for its third Pac-12 title and its first College Football Playoff appearance since 2014. But Cristobal's potential suitors -- LSU, USC, possibly Florida -- offer better locations and more national championship tradition.

Here's a look at the key candidates, their potential suitors and the pros and cons of staying or going. Also, we have the latest buzz around the coaching carousel as more hirings and firings are on the horizon.