Less than 24 hours after USC parted ways with head coach Clay Helton, rumored candidates to replace Helton have started to push back on questions about their interest in the role.

Penn State coach James Franklin, when asked Tuesday about the USC speculation, said that he will address the rumors with the team's leadership council because he "can't stand any form of distraction." The No. 10 Nittany Lions host No. 22 Auburn on Saturday.

"I’ll discuss this today with the leadership council so we can make sure that all of our energy is on our preparation for Auburn and that’s how we’ll handle it," he said.

At Cincinnati, head coach Luke Fickell was more emphatic about his stance on the USC rumors saying, "I don't talk to anybody — I barely talk to my own family during the season. So I wouldn't ever talk about (the USC head coaching job), nor would I even answer a phone call or anything like that. I know nothing, nor does it make me have any interest.

"It's not a big deal. It's nothing but distractions if people allow it to be, and for us it can't be."

Both Franklin and Fickell were among a handful of potential USC coaching candidates mentioned by The Athletic's senior writer Bruce Feldman on Monday in his assessment of the upcoming search.