First, we need to decide what we want in a head coach. Ties to CU, good recruiter, offense mind, defensive mind, previous head coaching experience, experience in big time programs and big time conference, ties to the west coast SoCal... whatever your are, keep those in mind. But also keep in mind- what is your definition of success for this program going forward? With all that in mind, here are some choices:
Brian Cabral (LB coach, Colorado:
Pros: No one can doubt is passion for the program, the area, the kids, and the fans. Hell, hearing him talk yesterday, I was ready to go tackle somebody. He's a CU institution, his wife runs the Alumni Association, and for as long as I've been a Buffalo, there've been 2 constants: 2 tons of Buffalo rumbling around Folsom before games, and 2 tons of Buffalo angry manning the linebacking corps during games. He's also an ace recruiter for his LBs and the state of Hawai'i, which is surprisingly talent rich, all things considered.
Cons: Never been a coordinator, let alone a head coach. As far as I can tell, he's never been a real candidate. Why is that? I understand why we had to go outside the program after Crusty Tugboat Captain Barnett talked his way out of town, but still. He's got a 3 game audition, at the very least. He also doesn't have much name recognition, and isn't a very sexy pick, if we're looking to capitalize on that new coach smell in fundraising (and we are trying, so there).
Eric Bienemy (RB coach/ Asst HC, Minnesota Vikings:
Pros: There's a lot to like about EB. He's a hell of a recruiter. He's from LA and coached at Ucla. He was born in Louisiana. He's currently coaching the best running back on the planet (Toby Gerhart, not that other dude, um, whatsisname). He's made the move consistently from RB coach to RB coach/ recruiting coordinator to NFL RB coach, to adding NFL Asst. HC to his title (to keep him from taking the USC OC job). He was also a great hype man for our special teams units, although I'm not sure that would continue as an HC. And obviously, he's a CU guy, with good name recognition.
Cons: Let's just say that, if the internet were around when EB was on campus, he would've been a permanent trending topic for CFB fans. Many know his transgressions, and most know lots more rumors of transgressions. Simply put, Eric Bienemy was not a very nice guy when he was on campus. If the disciplinary committee likes getting their hands on Katoa and Sipili, they would've flipped over Eric Bienemy. He's also never been a coordinator responsible for designing his own offense, nor called plays, nor been a head coach.
Brady Hoke (HC, San Diego State):
Pros: He's rebuilt the SDSU program quickly. He previously led his alma mater (Ball State) to success, so he knows how to win. He's also held jobs at BCS programs Oregon State and Michigan. He's also a very decent man. He had a player named Preston King who was a WR/ DB and won the starting PR job as a true freshman. Subsequently, King was diagnosed with a heart condition, and was forced to quit football (he can't even drive any more). But Hoke kept him on scholarship and offered him an assistant coaching position. That's pure class, and I would definitely want that kind of quality of character to lead our program.
Cons: Hey, let's pick the hot name from a non BCS program. When has that ever failed us? Yeah, I'm not sure we've got the stomach to revist that formula quite so quickly. And while he's done a good job of plucking 2nd tier talent from SoCal thus far, I'm unfamiliar with his reputation as a recruiter. Has no ties to CU.
Gus Malzahn, (OC, Auburn):
Pros: He brings 2 things immediately and definitely to the program: Name cachet and an offensive identity. Ask any college football fan, and they can describe his offense to some degree, whether it be "fast," "spread," "high scoring," whatever- every college football fan in America has an least a vague notion of what Malzahn brings to the table.
Cons: Frankly, Cam Newton right now. I'm not at all interested in any sort of scandal, and if it turns out something shady happened, Malzahn's off the table (even if he wasn't directly involved). He's also been something of a job hopper in his short college career (I wouldn't be concerned if not for the low salary we can offer). He has no ties to CU, or anywhere either north or west of Tulsa, really. Considering our last HC got 1.2 million, and our OL coach got $900,000 to move to Auburn, I question whether we can afford it.
Brent Venables (DC, Oklahoma)
Pros: Has good name cachet for a coordinator. Consistently pumps out quality units and pro draft picks. Has been involved in a national championship level program for a good long while. Good recruiter.
Cons: No CU ties, no known ties to the west coast. Never coached in a position not under Bob Stoops.
Greg Davis (OC, Texas)
Pros: (Woods. Head. Explodes. that is all). He's proven that he can design an offense. Obvious strong ties to Texas. A long history in big time programs in the south. Can walk into a recruit's house and say, "I coached Colt McCoy and Vince Young." With a down UT year, he might be had easier and cheaper than would otherwise be possible.
Cons: Well, Texas kind of sucks right now, which strongly brings down his Q rating. He wasn't very good the last time he was a head coach. And he has no ties to either CU or to the western half of the United States in general.
Dave Logan (HC, Mullen High School)
Pros: He's a state icon, for whatever reason. Strong ties to both CU and the state. Huge name recognition in CO. Has led 3 high school programs successfully- Arvada West, Chatfield, and now Mullen. Good recruiting ability, if you count LenDale White to Chatfield, I guess.
Cons: He's never been a college coach, he has no name recognition beyond state lines. It's questionable if he would give up his various media gigs for compensation that is probably comparable for sideways 8 infinity times the stress. This is your Hail Mary, or rather- your Stanford Band play. If it works year one, you've got a chance. If not, you're done, and the program would never recover. Never. We're not Notre Dame and Gerry Faust.
And finally, Bill McCartney, (um, something with churches):
Pros: Obviously beloved by the community. Has a national championship to his name. Took the program from nothing to the very highest level of the sport. I could keep typing, but we all know. Probably cheap.
Cons: He hasn't coached in 15 years. The game has definitely moved on. We no longer have partial qualifieers, which was a big part of Mac's recruiting strategy. The areas we were strong at recruiting- Louisiana, Texas, SoCal, happened when LSU, UT, and USC were all down. He's never even coached when we had widespread INTERNET, or the 85 scholarship limit. The game is just different now. The closest thing I can compare it to is when the Raiders hired that OC out of a bed and breakfast. I'm just not feeling it. And yeah, I abhor his religious/ political views. That rates with me.
Those are probably my top choices. If I think of more, I'll add them below. I don't want an NFL retread, and I think guys like Miles, Mullen, Muschamp, Sumlin, and Belloti as guys we just can't afford.
Now here's my definition of success: 40 wins in 5 years. If we could find a coach that could guarantee 40 wins every five years, I'd give him a lifetime contract. 40 wins= 1 season each of 6,7,8,9, and 10 wins. That's plenty successful for me (I expect many to disagree with that, but that's for another thread. I'm just laying out my parameters).
So here's my preferred coaching list:
HC: Eric Bienemy. I have concerns, but I also don't think he'd come for anything less than the HC job. I also think he's proven enough that, if he didn't have the early year issues, I feel like he'd be a slam dunk choice.
OC: Darian Hagan. I heard him on the Dan Hawkins radio show, and he said that he could run a lot of McCartney's offense out of the pistol. This intrigues me because I love the pistol offense (and I have for years, not just now. If I thought we could get Ault, I would choose him hands down), and I like the idea of moving to a more option based offense.* If we stick with Kiesau, which I would be OK with as long as the proper leadership is in place, then I move Hagan up to co-offensive coordinator/ running game, and make Kiesau the play caller and passing game coordinator).
DC: Brian Cabral. In my opinion, this should be done regardless of the HC. He deserves a shot. He's had nothing but success, and done everything that should be expected of a coach. I like him as an HC possibility, but my scenario has greater upside, I feel.
OL Coach: Not Denver Johnson. I don't know the right choice, but I know it isn't him. Victor Rogers?
WR Coach: I'm cool with Prince, although if we dumped Kiesau, he'd have to be more involved in implementing the passing game.
QB Coach: Honestly, my goal would be Mission Viejo High School coach Bob Johnson. I doubt he'd take it, but that would be my hail mary. He is one of the premier QB coaches in the country. Every SoCal QB wants to be tutored by him (hello, recruiting). He's produced numerous D1 QBs (including his kid- Rob Johnson, who should be a candidate if Bob isn't interested).
TE Coach: Not Kent Riddle. Our TE's used to be a huge strength. Now it's not. Let's say Logan, just for the hell of it.
DL Coach: Romeo Bandison has done a great job, as far as I'm concerned.
LB Coach: Whoever Cabral wants. Maybe Greg Biekert is bored. I trust Cabral to know what's what
Secondary Coach: I'm OK with Ambrose so far, although I find it troubling that our safeties can't tackle.
ST Coordinator: I haven't the foggiest. No matter what, I hope that we use either a grad assistant spot or a coaching intern spot or something on a kicking and punting coach. ST guys are more concerned about formations and blocking and tackling schemes. I think we could be forward thinking in hiring an actual kicking coach, and let, say, the DB coach learn protection schemes. We have high altitude and a legacy of good kickers, but now good kickers get instruction outside campus. Let's hire a kicker and figure out the coverage 2nd (hell, it's not like the conventional way has suited us lately).
*I feel like we need an option based offense because there's a lot more talent to cull from, from Colorado, that runs that style offense. For every Mullen, there are 10 Douglas County/ Columbine/ Wheat Ridge/ Greeley West style offenses. Most of CO runs the ball, and we need to embrace that at some level. Nebraska fell off because they built a culture based on the option, and then the wholes state couldn't adapt to the pro style. Now they've regained their identity, and they're successful. A school should represent it's communities. For CU, that means the plains as well as the city.
So that says I. What say you?