They’re happy, they’re content and they’re safe in their jobs.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be convinced to follow another path.

“It’s not just that every coach has a price,” an industry source told Saturday Down South. “Every coach has an ego.”

Because above all else, it’s about winning. Competition drives everything.

So while the perfect place might truly be perfect, there’s always something that’s more compelling and appealing — with more advantages to reach the ultimate goal of winning it all.

Chris Petersen said he’d never leave Boise State, then left to rebuild Washington and took the Huskies to the Playoff.

Jimbo Fisher left Florida State for Texas A&M.

Brian Kelly left Notre Dame for LSU.

Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma for USC.

There may not be big-name coaching movement this offseason — let’s wait and see what happens with Michigan and Jim Harbaugh — but there are still a handful of elite coaches who could move to bigger jobs if the right offer arrives.

A look at the top 5 coaches who could move for the right job:

Lance Leipold, Kansas

Nebraska was interested last year. So was Wisconsin.

Then Leipold signed a contract extension in November of 2022, and KU promised a $100 million in facilities renovations. Now the Jayhawks are 7-2 and have continued to win despite losing star QB Jalon Daniels (back injury) in Week 3.

Here’s the key: Leipold isn’t the gamble you think. Prior to taking over at Buffalo for his first FBS job, Leipold won national titles in 6 of 8 years at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater.

For those who believe that doesn’t translate to FBS, I give you Brian Kelly. A lower division star at Grand Valley State with multiple national titles, all Kelly has done is turn around programs at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, before becoming the winningest coach in Notre Dame history.

Leipold will move for the right job, and there might be 1 officially available at the end of the season (Michigan State).

Dave Clawson, Wake Forest

Clawson got a taste of the blue-blood life more than a decade ago, when Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer hired him as offensive coordinator — then meddled in the offense throughout his final season Knoxville, the worst offensive season at Tennessee in 30 years.

Clawson was 41 then and still climbing. He took the head coaching job at Bowling Green in 2009, left for Wake Forest in 2014 and has been in Winston-Salem since.

He’s one of the true offensive innovators of the game — his Slow Mesh/RPO offense is a symphony — and a rare “face of the program” coach. One industry source described Clawson as a cross between Mark Richt and Steve Spurrier.

The stately, face of the program leadership of Richt, and the innovative audacity of Spurrier.

Wake Forest showed faith in Clawson after 6 wins in his first 2 seasons, and he has responded with 7 consecutive bowl seasons. Clawson needs 2 wins over the remaining 3 games (NC State, at Notre Dame, at Syracuse) to make it 8.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State

How about this for a mic drop: winning the last Bedlam game and a month later winning the Big 12 — before leaving Stillwater after 19 undervalued seasons.

  • 7 of the 10 double-digit win seasons in school history.
  • Winningest coach in school history (162 wins are nearly triple of runner-up Pat Jones with 62).
  • 11-6 record in bowl games.

Oklahoma State got close to playing for it all in 2011, but a double overtime loss at Iowa State — a day after women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and 3 others died in a plane crash during a recruiting trip — ended any hope of a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. The Cowboys got close again in 2021, but a loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game ended any hope of a Playoff invite.

Gundy has considered open jobs in the past — including being offered the Tennessee job 3 times (2008, 2021, 2017) — but continues to say Oklahoma State is where he should be.

He’s still young (56), and many in the coaching community believe he could win big in a more fertile geographic recruiting footprint.

Jonathan Smith, Oregon State

If this were a most likely to go list, Smith would be at the top. He loves his alma mater, Oregon State. His family loves the Northwest.

But expansion (see: contraction) has left Oregon State with its nose pressed against the future Playoff glass. He could stay in Corvallis as long as he wants and consistently win at a high level after Oregon State’s inevitable move to the Mountain West (or whatever the courts decide to do with the Pac-12 brand).

But the way the Playoff format will likely be structured beginning in 2026 (and maybe in 2024-25) with all at-large selections, it will be next to impossible for Oregon State to play for a national title.

It took 3 years for Smith to get the program rebuilt, and the Beavers have won 24 games since 2021. With 3 more wins, they’ll have back-to-back double-digit win seasons for the first time in school history.

Many in the coaching community have compared Smith to Petersen (who he coached with at Boise State and Washington): a high football IQ, and a highly competitive personality.

Chris Klieman, Kansas State

Before you think Klieman would be crazy to leave the perfect fit at Kansas State, think about this:

He left the perfect fit at North Dakota State.

He would’ve made plenty of money staying at NDSU, would’ve won multiple (more) national titles and become the greatest lower division coach in college football history.

But K-State offered the opportunity to compete and prove himself at the highest level of college football. And more money than he ever could’ve made at NDSU.

Could he stay and win the national title at Kansas State? If the planets align, maybe.

Could he win the national title at a Big Ten blue-blood, with unlimited NIL money and a beefy recruiting footprint? Absolutely.

Klieman arrived at K-State in 2019 after Bill Snyder’s 2nd tenure, and it took time to mold the program to fit his philosophy. By Year 4 in 2022, K-State won its first Big 12 title since 2003.

“The most intriguing guy out there,” a Big Ten athletic director told Saturday Tradition this summer. “I can see him retiring (at K-State), but I could also see him wanting more. I haven’t met a football coach yet who isn’t, in one way or another, looking at what’s next.”

No matter how happy and content they are.