As we all know by now, he Colorado Buffaloes have hired Mel Tucker as their next head coach. This means a few things: number one, this team is going to get a lot tougher. Number two, the offense is likely transitioning a bit. Number three, an almost wholesale staff change is expected.
To me, this is very fun to think about. I get to connect dots, look at connections, and try to build the best staff. This is my head right now:
Remember this is my dream staff. So there’s gonna be some interesting picks to some. I would consider this staff just about perfect.
Head Coach: Mel Tucker
I mean, his strengths and weaknesses will be covered extensively in the coming months, so I’m not diving deep here. Tucker is a fantastic recruiter, but has no connections west of Texas, and has mostly been operating in the Southeast. He will need to build connections, but his natural personality should help close a few recruits.
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach: Dirk Koetter
An old friend of Tucker’s from his time in the NFL. Dirk Koetter was the OC for the Jacksonville Jaguars when Mel Tucker was their DC. He is currently the head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but reports are that he won’t last past this year. If Koetter doesn’t get a job in the NFL as an OC (unlikely), he would be a good fit in Boulder. He has plenty of experience in the Pac-12 footprint as a former head coach at Boise State and Arizona State, and his offenses are a nice hybrid. They run lots of play-action and pro-style sets, something that I’ve been desperately missing since the Gary Barnett days. His NFL experience should play well to recruits, but he won’t be a dynamo on the trail.
Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach: Everett Withers
Withers, on the other hand, will crush the recruiting trail. The newly fired coach from Texas State is looking for a job and would be a great fit under Tucker as DC. Other than his semi-failed stint at Texas State (which seems to have deep problems in the AD), Withers has succeeded everywhere he’s been. He has experience in college as a DC in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Ohio State. He was a DB coach in the NFL and at Texas, and combine that with his time at Texas State, Withers will have connections in the Lone Star State. Withers can recruit lights out, has big time experience in CFB, and has a very similar mindset to Tucker.
WR Coach/Assistant head coach: Tee Martin
This is completely unrealistic. The Buffs already have a great WR coach and recruiter with Darrin Chiaverini, but LET ME DREAM. Tee Martin, who was recently let go as USC’s offensive coordinator after another disappointing season, is one of the best recruiters in the country. He trawls the West Coast with the best of them, and a coach like Tucker who has minimal ties to CU’s footprint, a coach like Martin will open a lot of doors. His WRs have always performed well, but this is a recruiting hire. Martin will pull in dudes.
Offensive Line Coach: Brandon Jones
This position was the hardest for me to fill. The incoming OL coach will have plenty of young talent to work with, but the performance the last two years has been abysmal. There are not a lot of candidates that make sense. Jeff Grimes, the play caller at BYU, has ties in Boulder, but may not move for a demotion. Brad Bedell at Boise State is an alum, but may not be ready to move up. Chris Naeole is somehow still unemployed, which makes me nervous. That leaves me with Brandon Jones, the OL coach at Texas Tech. His head coach just got fired, so he may be available. As a candidate, he checks a lot of boxes. He’s young, has extensive experience as an OL coach at Cal and Texas Tech, indicating ties in those states, and has developed good lines everywhere he’s been. The main knock is that he has been an OL coach for only Air Raid offenses, and I don’t know if that’ the system CU will be running.
Running Backs Coach: Dell McGee
Let me start off with this. Dell McGee will almost certainly not move from Georgia to CU without a promotion. But let me have this. McGee is almost certainly the best RB coach in the country (save maybe Tony Alford). At Georgia, he has brought in and developed stud after stud. If Tucker can persuade him to come with him, he will have already won his first year.
Defensive Line Coach: Kwahn Drake
The young stud did a fantastic job at CU his first year, and I think he deserves to come back. The players love him and play hard for him. He is super young and brimming with potential.
Defensive Backs Coach: ShaDon Brown
I have a huge soft spot for ShaDon. I love his fire and his demeanor. The defensive backs were disappointing in 2018, but they were also as thin as they have been since 2014. Injuries decimated the corners and safeties, and the depth just wasn’t ready. There’s no doubting that the 2018 DBs were comparatively bad. But I still believe in ShaDon. Plus, he is a top two recruiter on the current staff.
Outside Linebackers Coach: Dan Lanning
Lanning is the most likely UGA assistant to follow Tucker to Boulder, and he will probably require more than a congruent position to move. Lanning is a rising star. He’s only 29, but he has already shown to be a fantastic recruiter and wunderkind with pass rushers. He has experience at Arizona State and Sam Houston State, so he knows the Buffs’ footprint. Promoting Lanning to DC may be too early, but a slight promotion, extra responsibility, and familiarity with Tucker could get him to Boulder. He is a fantastic recruiter and a rising star.
Special Teams/TE Coach/Recruiter: David Beaty
If you want to recruit Texas, you hire David Beaty. Very few people know the state and its high schools better than Beaty. The fired Kansas head coach is currently hired as a consultant for Texas, but if he wants to get back to the Power 5 coaching ranks, he’ll need a step up. If CU is serious about getting back into Texas (they are), hiring Beaty is a sure fire way to have some success.
This staff leans heavily towards recruiting and is very young. You need the players to compete. Tucker is a consummate professional, and by all accounts, a very organized coach. He is a natural leader. That makes it a little easier to hire some younger guys. Coaches like Tee Martin and David Beaty are relatively young, but they have plenty of big-time experience. The one place that I think experience is needed under Tucker is the OC position. Tucker is a defensive coach, and given the struggles CU had last year with an inexperienced play caller, I wanted someone who has called plays for a long time. Tucker could leave Koetter completely alone with the offense and do just fine.
If you have any other names you want considered, drop them below. These are exciting times for Buff fans, and speculation is a huge part of that fun. Right now, the Buffs are undefeated in 2018