If you have read the response to the “Failure is not an option, who will be our next LEADER?” post you will know why I think it’s imperative to hire a Head Coach. If you think that logic is misguided, take a look at the preliminary list supposedly put forth in the Minnesota coaching search. All of candidates in the discussion are current head coaches. Some have Minnesota ties, some don’t. I don’t know why this seems to be a preponderant requirement for CU fans. I really don’t care where the person has coached in the past and I certainly don’t care if they ever played, coached, been to CU or even looked at it on a map as long as they can win. Could you imagine if this was the logic at Florida, Alabama, USC, LSU or Texas? It’s just ridiculous (It’s equivalent to only dating women that live on your street).
Here are the requirements that should be considered; successful Head Coaching experience (preferably in the PAC10), name recognition (recruits in California/PAC10 will know and respect the name), experience and success recruiting PAC10 territory (specifically California) and can assemble a coaching staff/team that can win in the PAC12 quickly. Here are the choices;
Tier One (Head Coaches):
Using the above criteria there is only one option to consider, you have read this before from me and will likely read it again; Mike Bellotti.
Pros - The winningest coach in PAC10 history, has ties to California and has recruited California successfully and recently, assembled excellent staff (maybe too good for his own good), his name is recognized and respected within and outside of the PAC10 region, and is at the very least partially responsible for Oregon being ranked in the top five and in the hunt for a National Championship.
Although there are few cons, here is some nitpicking - health (two knee replacements), possible back issues, 6 and 6 bowl record (including 2 losses to CU).
If Colorado wants to come out of the PAC12 gate with the ability to compete, recruit and win like the rest of the conference, this IS the coach to do it. If there is any question if he wants to coach again, it was answered in the Register-Guard on October 25th, 2010;
"Former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti, who earlier this week was tabbed by a newspaper as a potential candidate for the open job at Minnesota, didn’t rule out a return to the coaching ranks during an interview Thursday. “I don’t know; we’ll see,” said Bellotti, now an analyst for ESPN. “I like what I’m doing. The travel is a little crazy, but I’m dealing with it. If the right job came up, I would listen. But right now I like doing what I’m doing.” On Monday, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggested Bellotti among 15 potential candidates to replace Tim Brewster, who was fired by the Gophers on Sunday. The list contained such longshot candidates as Chris Petersen of Boise State and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, who has already turned down an offer. Bellotti won a school-record 116 games against 55 losses while head coach of the Ducks from 1995-2008, having served as offensive coordinator for six seasons before that. He hired Chip Kelly as offensive coordinator in 2007, moved to athletic director at Oregon when Kelly became head coach in 2009 and left this spring after less than a year in the new position."
Here are other candidates if you must; It is titled Tier Two, but it’s a huge gap between Mike Bellotti’s credentials and anyone else's.
Tier Two (Head Coaches):
Kevin Sumlin - Has made Houston relevant , has proven the ability to recruit, has worked with several excellent head coaches including Bob Stoops and Dennis Erickson. Is a bit inexperienced in only his third season as Head Coach. He doesn’t have any substantial recruiting ties in the PAC10 or California.
Troy Calhoun - It seems he gets a good amount of consideration. Has a connection to the state of Colorado, but that certainly should not a requirement. Is similar to Sumlin in that he is a bit inexperienced in only his fourth season as Head Coach. He doesn’t have any substantial recruiting ties in the PAC10 or California. He has a future as an NFL coach.
Greg Schaino - Has worked miracles at Rutgers and is only 44. Has no substantial recruiting ties in the PAC10 or California. His east coast ties will likely put in line for a Big10 gig. He may also have a future in the NFL.
Gary Patterson - Also only 44 years old. Has made a great program out of TCU in a short period of time. Has name recognition. He would have to develop recruiting ties in PAC10 country. Is it possible to get past the KSU ties? If he wins here like he does at TCU, I don’t care if they go back to “sky blue”.
Tier Three (Head Coaches):
What is it about us as sports fans that needs to uncover the diamond in the rough? We are always looking for the next “up and coming” guy. At this transitional period of Colorado football, an experienced coach like Bellotti will have a much shorter transition period. Here they are none the less (in no order);
Gary Anderson - Honestly don’t know much about him other than he was successful in helping to build the undefeated Utah team that clobbered Alabama in the ’09 Sugar Bowl. Certainly a head coach to keep your eye on.
Pat Fitzgerald - Has done well at Northwestern (his Alma Mater). Coached LB’s at CU with Barnett in ’99. Colorado has picked from this tree before. Could it payoff again?
Brady Hoke - SDSU was on my pre season watch list for surprise team of the year. His next stop is as an AQ Head Coach. He is a bit older than some of the other coaches mentioned, but I think the sky is the limit for him. If you want a diamond in the rough, look no further than Coach Hoke. He is starting to build a reputation in recruiting Southern California. His resume is somewhat similar to Urban Meyers. If they get two questionable plays to go their way, they are undefeated and have beaten BYU and Missouri. This guy knows what he is doing. If he's not on the CU radar he should be. Don't be surprised if he ends up at Stanford, ASU or WSU.
Mike Leach - Sure he has had success and is an offensive genius, but his quirkiness causes concern. Colorado certainly doesn’t need any type of scandal or impropriety any where near it’s football program. He is still a gamble, but perhaps he has learned a lesson. Some are not particularly fond of his chuck it all over the place offensive style, including myself.
June Jones - Um? Long shot at best. Good fit at Texas Tech if Tuberville doesn't impress.
Randy Edsall - Doing OK at Connecticut. Another east coast guy that may be waiting for the Syracuse job.
Butch Davis - Will he survive the NC scandal? See second sentence of Mike Leach synopsis. No warm fuzzy here.
Ken Niumatalolo - Wow! Watching and liking.
If I had to make a top five list (like most AD’s carry with them) here it is; Bellotti, Patterson, Hoke or Sumlin (based on interview) and Calhoun.
Tier Four (Assistant Coaches):
If Bohn is required to interview at this level you can expect a few years of losing seasons before a significant turn around. These coaches, as exceptional as they may be, will experience a transitional period that could take a few seasons to build on. I would break the bank for Bellotti and put the program in the red if necessary before I would hire a coach on this level. I don’t think Colorado can afford a start in the PAC12 by waiting a few seasons for a coach to establish himself. These guys are almost interchangeable. It would really have to come down to the interview and a few other intangibles.
Norm Chow - Broyles award winner. Excellent at developing great quarterbacks. Not sure why he hasn’t been offered a head coaching job yet, but certainly has an exceptional pedigree. Has experience recruiting PAC12 territory and has some name recognition.
Jim McElwain - Alabama OC. Possible jump back to SEC.
Nick Holt - Washington DC. Has experience recruiting PAC10 and California.
Andy Ludwig - California OC. Has experience recruiting PAC10 and California.
Kirby Smart - Broyles award winner. Alabama DC. Possible jump back to SEC.
Gus Malzhan - THE offensive genius of the SEC. Auburn OC. Return to SEC?
Brent Venables - Oklahoma DC.
Kevin Wilson - Broyles award winner. Oklahoma OC.
Dick Bumpas - TCU DC. Defense wins championships. This guys is #2 in the country.
Ed Orgeron - Not much success as Head Coach. Of course, that experience was at Mississippi. Has experience recruiting PAC10 and California. USC DC.
Greg Davis - Broyles Award winner. Texas OC. In trouble?
Put the above in any order you want, set your watch and expect a few rough seasons before success is achieved. Programs like Louisville and Mississippi State can afford to take this route. I don't think Colorado can or should.
Tier Five (Others):
Eric Bieniemy - No one will question his desire, heart or passion for the University of Colorado. He could use some more seasoning as a Head Coach or Assistant (for that matter) anywhere. Without it, this has disaster written all over it. No head coaching experience, not much experience recruiting the PAC10 or California and lacks name recognition beyond Colorado. Let’s not do this to CU or Bieniemy.
Bill McCartney - There has been a lot of talk about Coach Mac coming back to the coaching ranks after a 16 year absence. This is working to a certain degree at KSU, but lets not forget that Coach Snyder was out of football for all of three seasons. As much as the Buff faithful want Coach Mac to come back, I don’t see this playing out well. I will leave it at that.
Dave Logan - The only reason he is included is that someone will comment on why he is not listed. The reasons are as follows; No head coaching experience on the collegiate level, no recruiting ties to the PAC10 or California, no name recognition beyond Metro Denver. The formula in which a high school football coach jumps to Head Coach of a college football program is rarely successful. It hasn’t even been mentioned that he would be coming from a Colorado high school team to a team in one of the premier conferences in the country. Absolutely not!
Mark Mangino - Actually, I would rather see Mangino than some of the others listed above. In the same vein as Leach, Leavitt and Davis. Let the Ralphie comparisons begin now.
Jim “rock ‘em, sock ‘em “Leavitt - If it gets to this point, we should be very concerned.
That’s it. I hope I have been able present a case for the hiring of Mike Bellotti. I know there are those of you who will disagree and question if he wants to coach here. Don't kid yourself. The new PAC12 will be competing with the SEC and Big10 for best conference bragging rights (heck, they are right now). In my mind, that gives CU the potential to be one of the top 36 programs in the country. We deserve and should go after one of the top 36 coaches. Don’t be fooled by Denver Post writers or others suggesting there are coaches more qualified or in a better position to accept the job. Join me in support of Mike Bellotti as the next coach of the Colorado Buffaloes! Better yet, come to the next Buffalo Stampede on November 5th in support of Mike Bellotti. Let's give Bohn something to consider.
You may be in favor of another coach. That’s fine. This is America. You are allowed to disagree and debate. Just be respectful and civil. Go Buffs!