It seems that each of the last four seasons have ended with rumors of Campbell's imminent departure. But given the current landscape, this might be the year it happens.
Several brand name programs- programs that have won national titles and could win more- are without a coach. Several of the assumed candidates have been locked up by their current schools with massive 10-year contracts. The pool of candidates who would please a fan base is suddenly small.
Coach Campbell may suddenly be the most attractive 'available' candidate.
CMC seems to be wired differently from most coaches, and doesn't come across as a ladder climber. But he also climbed one rung of the ladder to leave Toledo for Iowa State. Why would he not climb another?
He mentioned in an interview a few years ago that he had given "Stillness is the Key" to his staff to read one summer, which is an interesting choice of books. Much of the book harps on being in the moment, focusing at the task at hand, not looking ahead, concepts that fit into his coaching philosophy and you hear repeated by his players.
But a big section of the middle of the book talks about the folly of pursuing riches and fame, as both are fleeting and fail to satisfy. The moment you finish climbing one mountain your brain turns to the next challenge.
It would be odd to embrace the part of the book that helps one be successful but ignore another part that warns of pursuing success in the hopes of finding happiness.
Perhaps the brand name jobs are becoming less of a goal for coaches. Each coach who signed on with their second or third tier school may have realized that they can have a good life at a place without "Championship or Bust" aspirations. Is $8 million a year worth it if you are being hung in effigy after a disappointing loss in year two?
Campbell can drive a hard bargain if he wants to try and win a title. ADs who are desperate to appease their fan base will throw unimaginable riches at him this week. CMC may also use the moment to earn another pay raise for the staff, most of whom have coached for him for a decade.
We will learn a lot about Campbell's priorities in the next few weeks.