LARAMIE -- Speculation over Wyoming's next men's basketball coach ran rampant long before there was a job opening.
With Monday's announcement from the University that it has terminated Heath Schroyer's contract before the end of his fourth season, the guessing game can officially begin.
UW athletics director Tom Burman declined to comment further on the matter until a teleconference today but said in a release that he will immediately begin a national search for the program's next coach.
He may not have to look that far.
One early front-runner -- and a name that has come up frequently amongst fans over the past year -- is BYU associate head coach Dave Rice.
Rice joined the Cougars as an assistant in 2005 and was promoted by head coach Dave Rose to the associate head coaching position in 2008.
When asked about his interest in the position by the Salt Lake Tribune on Monday, Rice declined to comment, stating that it wasn't an open position.
Rice has 17 years of coaching experience in the region, with stops also coming at Utah State and UNLV, where he won a national championship as a player during the 1989-90 season.
UW supporters have also been interested in whether Burman would be open to looking at former UW head coach Larry Shyatt.
Shyatt coached only the 1997-98 season in Laramie but inherited a 12-16 team and led it to a 19-9 record and an National Invitation Tournament bid before being hired away by Clemson.
A contract dispute upon his departure left a sour taste with some of UW's faithful.
Shyatt has been an assistant at Florida since 2004.
South Florida assistant coach Jeremy Cox was a graduate assistant at UW during the 1991-92 season under head coach Benny Dees and has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
He boasts 20 years of coaching experience with stops at multiple levels, but his only head coaching experience has come at the junior college level.
Cox, a Mesa State (Colo.) graduate, had stints as head coach at North Dakota State, Garden City Community College and Arkansas-Fort Smith but is currently an assistant under Stan Heath.
North Texas head coach Johnny Jones helped lead LSU to the Final Four as a player and enjoyed stops as an assistant as his alma mater, Alabama and LSU.
He has led the Mean Green to two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last four years and last season the team won a school-record 24 games.
North Texas is 16-7 and in third place in the Sun Belt Conference's West Division this year.
The list of possible candidates in UW's national search surely extends far beyond this list.
A source close to the situation said on Monday that the school will hire a search firm to assist in the process.
The UW release did not say whether interim coach Fred Langley could earn the position based on the team's play over the final month of the season.