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The Colorado Buffaloes football season is essentially over.
There will be no winning season, no bowl game and as it stands right now, no reason to be excited about the direction of the football program unless you are a big fan of the team’s grade point average.
So instead of talking about penalties and missed opportunities stemming from the Buffs 17-10 loss to Iowa State on Saturday, let’s have some fun.
Should CU athletic director Mike Bohn decide to let head coach Dan Hawkins go before the final game of the season or in the offseason, he would make a list of who he wants to coach CU? That is what I’d like to muse about.
Before Hawkins was hired about four years ago, Bohn called the university a “gold mine.” With the program further in debt and a 16-31 record in Hawkins’ tenure, that gold mine appears to be nothing more than fool’s gold.
This isn’t a program coming off years of Big 12 North Division dominance or just four years removed from a BCS bid. This is important to keep in mind. According to published reports, a buyout of Hawkins’ contract would cost the athletic department around $3 million and the hiring of a new coach would likely take the same amount, which brings the grand total to somewhere around $6 million. With that in mind, here is my list of coaches CU could get, might be able to get and a few long shots who are at least fun to mention.
What they could get:
Eric Bieniemy – Beiniemy is in the Buff family as he played for former head coach Bill McCartney from 1987-1990. He returned to CU as running backs coach for two seasons (2001-02) and he is currently the Minnesota Vikings running backs coach. He would be within Bohn’s price range and his CU ties would appeal to fans.
Jon Embree – Embree was interviewed four years ago, but Bohn decided to go with Hawkins. He was an assistant head coach at UCLA and was most recently the Kansas City Chiefs tight ends coach. Embree, like Bieniemy, brings both college and NFL experience and has CU ties. Since he has never been a head coach, he would likely jump at the opportunity to coach the Buffs.
Turner Gill – The head coach of the Buffalo Bulls turned the program into a contender in 2008 by leading the Bulls to their first-ever bowl game. Gill has interviewed for both the Nebraska and Auburn openings in recent years and his stock may be too high, but CU would still be a huge promotion. Bonus: Gill played for the Cornhuskers from 1981-83 and would add intrigue to the Buffs’ rivalry with Nebraska.
Dave Logan – I do not like this choice, but it is a possibility. Logan is well-liked in Colorado and played for the Buffaloes in the 1970s, but he is a high school football coach with no college experience. If Hawkins is fired, don’t be surprised to hear Logan’s name thrown around.
What they might be able to get:
Brent Venables – The Oklahoma defensive coordinator would bring some toughness to the Buffaloes. Venables has been a solid recruiter for OU head coach Bob Stoops and would give the program some credibility and notoriety. He will be heavily sought after and possibly out of CU’s reach.
Tommy Tuberville – Tuberville has Southeastern Conference coaching experience, including leading Auburn to a 13-0 record in 2004. He is a well-established head coach but big name schools aren’t likely to go after him since the trend has been toward young up-and-coming coaches in recent years. He also might not want to take on a rebuilding program.
The long shots:
Charlie Strong – A few years ago, it would seem Florida’s defensive coordinator would be a great fit at CU, but his reputation after helping the Gators to two national championships has vaulted him into one of the most desirable coaches in the country. In January, Strong claimed he has been passed over for head coaching positions because he is in an interracial marriage. If he feels his opportunities in the SEC are going to be held back by racism, then he might make the jump to Boulder.
Chris Petersen – This one would likely never happen because Petersen is the current head coach at Boise State and would be reluctant to take a job after watching his predecessor struggle in Boulder. And is CU really a better job than Boise State?
Mike Shanahan – Shanahan’s 35,000 square-foot mansion in Cherry Hills Village should be finished by now and he is being paid by Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen to basically do nothing. Why not come to Boulder for a couple of years and coach the Buffs? It worked for former NFL head coaches Pete Carroll and Nick Saban. This one would NEVER happen, however, because Shanahan will be able to pick whichever NFL opening he wants next season.
There is one coach I left off this list. He might be the most likely candidate to coach the Buffaloes next year. His name is Dan Hawkins. If Bohn feels he can’t afford to fire Hawkins or if he thinks Hawkins deserves one more year, then don’t be surprised to see Hawk roam the sidelines next season. Just don’t expect to see him on anybody else’s wish list.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Ryan Callahan at Ryan.firstname.lastname@example.org.