It feels like we just did this last year because we did. Somehow, someway, despite both coach and school being generally happy with their spot, the Colorado Buffaloes find themselves looking for another football head coach. Ugh. These are fun to do every once in a while. This is not fun to do every year.
But here we are. Another list of names, semi-made up, all are a possibility for this job. This is like a classic whodunnit, except no one knows who is in the envelope so it’s just a bunch of people walking into random rooms and shouting things like “Candlestick” or “Lead Pipe”.
Darrin Chiaverini, Interim Head Coach - Colorado
Coach Chiaverini is the obvious internal hire. Coach Chev has been a huge boon for the University of Colorado since he returned in 2016. He is a killer recruiter, with deep ties to California, Texas, and Colorado. The current players have rallied him as a leader, and as the current interim head coach, he has the inside track. There a few downsides, though. He has never been a head coach, and his stint as a play-caller at OC did not go swimmingly. There is also the possibility that he does not have the staff connections to hire the pieces around him that he might need.
Eric Bieniemy, Offensive Coordinator, Kansas City Chiefs
This would definitely be the splashiest hire for Rick George and the Buffs. Eric, as we all know, is a former star for CU and won a national championship in 1990 under Bill McCartney. After a long stay in the NFL, he returned to coach RBs for the Buffs in 2001, just in time for Chris Brown to tear up the country. He was hired away by UCLA, where he coached Maurice Jones-Drew, and then moved to the NFL until 2010, when he got a call from his friend Jon Embree to see if he wanted to be OC for the Buffs. He accepted the offer, and the whole stint was a disaster. Now, he is the OC for the recent Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. He has the connections, pedigree, recruiting chops, and rings to succeed. The main hurdle, which is huge, is that he probably wouldn’t take the job. He is in line for an NFL HC job any day now.
Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator, Oregon
A young P5 defensive coordinator within the conference footprint. You could certainly do much worse. Avalos is a newcomer to Oregon, having only been hired a year ago, but he did wonders with a supremely talented defense in 2019. He also has experience with CU, having coached under Dan Hawkins (who’s available!). He did well at Boise State, and is generally regarded as a plus recruiter. However, he’s young, and green, and would be a reach.
Graham Harrell, Offensive Coordinator, USC
Another young P5 coordinator from the area! Harrell certainly checks boxes. He has deep connections to Texas, having played at Texas Tech, and certainly proved his value to USC last year. He has improved the scoring output everywhere he’s been, and he’s a hot name on the coaching market. There a few things working against this. He is the presumed head coach in waiting at USC, where Clay Helton is a dead man walking. If he isn’t, there is a pretty big chance that he would jump ship as soon as possible at CU if he worked out. I don’t want to go through this again.
Dino Babers, Head Coach, Syracuse
This is the Jack Barsch wildcard. This is probably a long shot for a few reasons, but it’s a reasonable “buy low” candidate. I love Dino Babers. I think he’s fun, I think he can recruit, and I hate that he’s hidden away in upstate New York. If the Buffs can pull the funds, Babers would immediately juice up this offense while keeping the physicality. He also has plenty of coaching connections to pull from. I don’t know if he’d make that jump. His recent 5-7 record should give pause (FOR SOME PROGRAMS, MSU), as well.
Will Healy, Head Coach, Charlotte
Another Jack Barsch special. I love Will Healy. He’s young, he’s supercharged, and he can recruit lights out. He turned Austin Peay from winless to 8-1 in two years (let’s not talk about the year after that when everyone graduated), then took Charlotte to a bowl game last year in his first year. Players love him, recruits love him, and he gets results. There are a few things stopping this from happening. He has no connections to build a staff (fixable), he’s not proven (who cares, he’s cool), and has no experience west of the Mississippi. But he’d be cheap, he’d recruit, and if you give him an experienced staff, man that’d be fun.
Dave Clawson, Head Coach, Wake Forest
I feel like Clawson has been a fringe candidate for every P5 opening of the last few years. For good reason. In little Winston-Salem, North Carolina, he has gone to four straight bowl games (a dream in Boulder) and built a fun team with identity. His offenses are always innovative and balanced, and he knows how to run a program. I frankly don’t know why he hasn’t gotten more interest. He’s working miracles.
Ken Niumatalolo, Head Coach, Navy
BRING BACK THE OPTION.