Penn State needs a coach. Urban Meyer is available.

Let the speculation begin.

The last game Meyer coached for Florida, his Gators beat Joe Paterno and Penn State in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.

Meyer, then 46, needed a break from coaching. Paterno, having just turned 84, seemingly was going strong.

"He will go down as the greatest football coach in the history of the game. Every young coach, in my opinion, can take a lesson from him," Meyer said after that game in Tampa, Fla.

"If I ever start a coaching school, I'm going to make everybody do a book report on Joe Paterno, and say that's the way you should act in coaching because that's college football. ... You just don't want to lose that man or lose what college football is. That was college football out there today."

Now it's possible Meyer could be the man to replace Paterno, the winningest coach in Division I history, whose 46-season run with the Nittany Lions ended Wednesday because of a child-sex-abuse scandal involving a former assistant coach.

Paterno was fired Wednesday night by Penn State's board of trustees. University president Graham Spanier also was fired and athletic director Tim Curley has stepped aside, too, so no one even knows who will be hiring the next coach.

And Meyer's name certainly won't be the only one to surface as a possible candidate at Penn State.

This, however, is certain: Penn State is going to hire a football coach for the first time since 1966, and one of the most successful in the last decade is on the market.

Even before former Nittany Lions defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was charged with being a serial molester - speeding up Paterno's departure - there had been talk that Penn State officials had reached out to Meyer about eventually replacing their coaching legend.

Meyer, now 47, has given no indication that he's ready to return to coaching.

Before the Penn State scandal erupted, he was happy just being a college sports fan: Meyer has three children, and his two daughters play college volleyball.

"I'm not worrying about down the road," Meyer told The Associated Press in a phone interview last week. "I do miss it. I miss a lot of things about it, but I also am really enjoying another part, that's I get to watch my kids play sports."

There are other intriguing candidates. Miami coach Al Golden, 42, was a tight end at Penn State from 1987-91 and was linebackers coach there in 2000, the season after Sandusky retired.

"We're excited about what we're building here. I can't worry about what other people are saying," Golden said Wednesday when asked about Penn State in a teleconference.

Rutgers coach Greg Schiano got his first big break in coaching when he was promoted from graduate assistant to defensive backs coach under Sandusky in 1991, and he stayed there until 1995.

"I don't even get into (rumors of replacing Paterno)," Schiano said at his news conference Wednesday. "I really don't. We've got a lot of work to do here. We're going to build a championship program here."

Still, the Meyer-to-Penn State talk had already started before Happy Valley turned gloomy. It will only get louder from here.