From Bruce Feldman. He also thinks we'll go for someone with HC experience.
Candidates with head coaching experienceBronco Mendenhall:
and Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall is available. He’s a defensive-minded coach who had a solid run at Virginia after going 99-43 at BYU. He knows this region well and would feel like a pretty safe hire. Would he fire up the fan base? Probably not, but could he develop the Buffaloes into a bowl team? Probably.
The guy who followed Mendenhall at BYU, Sitake would also make some sense. His teams are always very physical and play hard. Sitake has a strong recruiting reputation on the West Coast and in Hawaii, which is a big bonus. He also has a lot of Pac-12 experience and is doing an excellent job at his alma mater. He is 25-5 the past three years. BYU is headed to the Big 12 and that likely means more stability, or at least certainty, in Provo than Boulder. Would he be tempted to leave what he has for Colorado? We’re skeptical, but the Buffaloes should at least ask.
The Air Force
coach, 56, knows the area very well from his time at the Academy and as a Denver Broncos assistant. He’s a creative offensive mind and a consistent winner. In the past four seasons, he’s 28-9.
An Oregon native, Wilcox is only 29-30 at Cal but that is a very challenging Pac-12 job for all sorts of reasons. Because of that, we think he might be open to making this move if CU makes a real push for him.
The Texas assistant, a Chris Petersen protege, did well as an FCS coach in the region, going 11-4 at Montana State in his fourth season there after revitalizing that program and leading it to the FCS semifinals. He knows the Pac-12 well from stints at Washington State and Washington.
Another former Petersen assistant, Auburn
head coach Harsin might merit a look. It seems like a long shot he’s going to be in the SEC much longer. He’s 9-9 in a year and a half at a place where most of the key Auburn folks never wanted him in the first place. If and when Harsin gets pushed out, he might be worth a look in Boulder. He led Boise State
to four Top 25 seasons in seven years there.
Ricky Rahne: Old Dominion
’s head coach, a Colorado native, doesn’t have a ton of head coaching experience. He also doesn’t have a winning record at the Sun Belt school, going 8-10 so far, but he led the school to a bowl in his first year and then to a win over Virginia Tech
in the opener this season. The former Penn State OC is expected to at least get some consideration, but obviously it’d help his cause a lot if the Monarchs, 2-3, can start piling up some wins. Knocking off Sun Belt power Coastal Carolina
on the road in their next game would be a nice start.
Assistant coaches who could be strong candidatesRyan Walters:
The Illinois defensive coordinator is a former Colorado player and staffer. Since those days, the 36-year-old has worked his way up in the coaching world and is now playing a key role in Illinois’ rise. His defense is No. 3 in the country. Before he arrived two seasons ago, the Illini ranked No. 108. He’s good and ready to be a candidate at his alma mater.
offensive coordinator did a terrific job at BYU, improving an offense that had ranked No. 78 in yards per play in 2018 and ranked No. 1 in the country in 2020. He then took a Baylor offense that was ranked No. 125 and got the Bears up to No. 33. He was a finalist for the Utah State
coaching vacancy two years ago and we hear he impressed in that process, but Utah State liked Blake Anderson’s head coaching experience. Grimes has only ascended since then. He is very well-regarded as a game planner and his big presence exudes leadership and confidence.
Tony Alford: Ohio State
’s run game coordinator played at rival CSU and has helped Notre Dame
and Ohio State elevate and stay at a high level over the past decade. He’s been a key piece to the Buckeyes explosive offense but might be more likely to get a longer look at the Group of 5 level than in Boulder.
A wild-card name to watch here is former Colorado star Bieniemy, the Kansas City Chiefs OC. The 53-year-old, who went to high school in Southern California, has been a Buffaloes assistant on two separate occasions. He had a strong reputation as a recruiter back then. He’s been a valuable assistant for the Chiefs in their rise over the past decade.
He has been unable to get an NFL head coaching job and might be more inclined to take his shot at running a program at his alma mater after years as a top assistant waiting for his chance. According to a source, he did turn down around $4 million a year the last time his alma mater was looking for a new coach. If Colorado tries to hire him now, he might be more ready to take it.