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Questions for 2017 Colorado Buffaloes football

Digging into some of the biggest questions facing the Buffs.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Reception Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

As Co-Offensive Coordinator Darrin Chiaverini tweeted on New Year’ Eve, “2016 was about “The Rise” and Colorado being back in the National spotlight! 2017 is about taking CU to another level!”

With 2016 and “The Rise” in the rearview mirror, it’s time to welcome in a “New Era” of Colorado Football. Like most college football programs however, a transition from one year to the next comes with plenty of questions. Here are some immediate concerns facing the Colorado Buffaloes football program in 2017.

Will Mike MacIntyre receive a long-term contract extension?

After leading the Buffs to a 10-4 record and a Pac-12 South Division title, the 51-year old went from being on the hot seat to a hot commodity in the college football world. Earning just over $2 million in 2016 (not including bonuses), MacIntyre is currently the lowest paid head coach in the Pac-12. MacIntyre’s deal runs through the 2018 season, so if Colorado Athletic Director Rick George wants to lock in the 2016 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year before another program sweeps him up, he better act fast.

Who will replace Defensive Coordinator Jim Leavitt?

With Defensive Coordinator Jim Leavitt leaving for Oregon less than two weeks after the Pac-12 Championship game, Colorado’s defense took a major hit. After Leavitt’s departure, safeties coach Joe Tumpkin, who played for Leavitt at USF, took over the defensive-play calling vs Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl. The Buffs defense allowed 527 total yards to Mike Gundy’s Cowboys in a 38-8 loss, not exactly the debut Tumpkin wanted. Despite that debut, Tumpkin remains a candidate to take over coaching duties for a Colorado defense which ranked among the Top-20 in the nation in 2016.

"We'll make the hire when we find the right guys," MacIntyre said of having to replace his defensive coordinator and safeties coach Charles Clark, who joined Leavitt in Eugene earlier this week. "We're not going to rush it. We'll do like we've done in the past and get the right guys."

Will the Buffs hold onto a Top-25 recruiting class?

National Signing Day is less than a month away and the Buffs are in position to bring in a Top-25 recruiting class for the first time since 2008. But like the famous Alec Baldwin line from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross goes, “coffee’s for closers only.” Three of the Buffs eight verbal commits from the State of Texas (OC Xavier Newman, WR K.D. Nixon and CB Chris Miller) received offers from Baylor in the month of December. Holding onto these verbal commits will be crucial if the Buffs hope to finish with a Top-25 class on February 1st.

Can the Buffs land top-rated TE Josh Falo?

Described as a player who “displays good hands with the ability to extend and snatch the ball away from his body,” the top-ranked tight end in the ESPN 300 (158th ranked player overall) is considering joining his brother - current Buffs outside linebacker N.J. Falo - in Boulder this fall. Falo (pronounced follow) revealed his following “unofficial” top five to Scout.com in late December: Alabama, Colorado, Oregon, Ohio State and USC. The 4-star TE has made only one official visit thus far, taking in Boulder back in October, however he has two official visits (USC and Oregon) planned later this month. Should Falo and his fellow Inderkum H.S. teammate TraJon Cotton sign with the Buffs, the “New Era” would begin with a BIG statement and Chiaverini might be able to sit back and enjoy a cup of coffee.