Minutes after Bruce Feldman’s tweet dropped, breaking the news that Mel Tucker had agreed to become Michigan State’s head coach, Eric Bieniemy’s name immediately surfaced as the most logical choice to take over head coaching duties for the Colorado Buffaloes.
Just 10 days prior, Bieniemy orchestrated the Kansas City Chiefs offense to a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV. Before that historic win, the Chiefs offensive coordinator was being considered for a handful of NFL head coaching opportunities, from the Cleveland Browns to the New York Giants. Bieniemy, the Buffaloes career leader in rushing yards, also had two coaching stints at his alma mater. He served as running backs coach under Gary Barnett for the 2001-02 seasons and was Jon Embree’s offensive coordinator in 2011-12 before Andy Reid plucked him to coach the Chiefs running backs in 2013. Bieniemy’s accolades are plentiful. His resume speaks for itself. And he’s perhaps the greatest offensive player to don the Black and Gold. It makes perfect sense as to why Bieniemy’s the most logical candidate to replace Tucker.
Colorado athletic director Rick George certainly has a difficult decision to make. Does he go with a coach with ties to the program, like the offensive-minded Bieniemy or perhaps a defensive guru like Jim Leavitt or Andy Avalos? Leavitt, the current FAU defensive coordinator, led the Buffaloes defense during their Pac-12 South title run in 2016. Avalos is currently a co-defensive coordinator at Oregon and was a graduate assistant with the Buffaloes from 2006-’08 under Dan Hawkins. Or does George go outside the family, with a guy like USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell or Wyoming head man Craig Bohl? Will he choose someone with previous head coaching experience or an up and coming assistant, ready to lead a power five program?
”I want somebody that shares my passion for this university,” George said during Wednesday’s press conference. “It’s an incredible community. It’s a great state and we play in a terrific conference. We just have to get the right person in here who’s committed to the same things that I and my staff are committed to.”
George’s expectations for Colorado’s next head coach haven’t wavered. That much is clear. From Bieniemy to Bohl, there are plenty of qualified contenders to lead the Buffaloes football program. But as George and company continue to vet candidates, the best choice might be right under his nose.
As much as Bieniemy deserves a shot at an NFL head coaching gig, Darrin Chiaverini deserves to be the next head coach of the Colorado Buffaloes. A member of Buffs coaching staff since 2016, Chiaverini was named interim head coach following Tucker’s departure. He played for the Buffs from 1995 to 1998 and was a team captain, MVP and the first-ever Buffalo Heart Award winner, presented each year to the Buff who demonstrates grit, determination and toughness.
Came to Boulder Colorado when I was 17 years old!! There is not a better University in the country than the University of Colorado!! We are building something Buff Nation will be proud of!! To our 2020 class and our current players stand Shoulder to Shoulder and know we're Rising— Darrin Chiaverini (@CoachChev6) February 12, 2020
In addition to his accolades on the field, Chiaverini is also one of the top recruiters in the country, having made Rivals’ list of the Top 25 Recruiters for 2020. It was the second straight year he was named to the prestigious list. No candidate bleeds black and gold more than Darrin Chiaverini. What he lacks in head coaching experience, he makes up for with his relentless passion and dedication to the Buffaloes football program. And he’s demonstrated that ever since he first stepped onto campus in 1995 at the age of 17.
Make no mistake, Tucker was a great hire for Colorado. But in the business that is college football, the almighty dollar reigns supreme. Loyalty isn’t what it used to be. Can you really blame Tucker for jumping at the Michigan State opportunity? Sure, he could’ve handled it better, but now is not the time to cry over spilt milk. And Rick George isn’t. He’s hard at work trying to find the Buffaloes next head football coach, one who shares his passion for the University of Colorado.
That man should be Darrin Chiaverini.