The USC coaching search conversation is picking up steam. After the Trojans dropped a 56-24 contest to No. 7 Oregon on Saturday night in Los Angles, falling to 5-4 on the season, the writing appears to be on the wall for Clay Helton.

All season long, the leading candidate for the job has been expected to be former Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. He’s the elite coach that could steer a program like USC back in the right direction. But recent speculation is that USC could be moving away from Meyer, and targeting current head coaches.

Yahoo Sports college football writer Pete Thamel believes there are plenty of other coaches that could be targeted during the search. Two of those names hail from the B1G.

Thamel believes that Penn State’s James Franklin will be the No. 1 target for USC. He also thinks P.J. Fleck could be a potential candidate for the job. Below is what Thamel wrote for Yahoo Sports:

USC failed to express serious interest in candidates with deep and direct ties to Meyer, like former Florida AD Jeremy Foley and Washington State AD Patrick Chun. If Folt really wanted Meyer, she’d have engineered the AD search to get him.

Bohn and Meyer have some surface ties, as Meyer’s son plays baseball at Cincinnati and provides the strongest link. But if USC leaders wanted someone with deep ties to Meyer, they passed on multiple candidates. Those with knowledge of the search say it’s a clear sign Folt wants a different direction.

“If they wanted to go and get Urban Meyer, they’d need to hire someone he has a strong relationship with,” said an industry source. “He needs to believe in his AD. He’s been very close with all the athletic directors he’s worked with.”

The frontrunner for USC to target likely shifts to Penn State’s James Franklin, a move that would take a substantial amount of money considering the revenue gaps between the two schools. If they can’t sell Franklin on coming — and assuming Bob Stoops is happy in the XFL — they can sift through a list that would likely include Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, Baylor’s Matt Rhule, Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Memphis’ Mike Norvell.

It doesn’t seem likely that Helton will lose his job before the season ends, but that doesn’t mean USC isn’t out recruiting its next leader on the football field.

Things should be interesting with another high-profile job (likely) coming open at the end of the year.