What CU needs is a “Splash Hire” to pull the Buff Nation out of a decade of doldrums

We’re going to love CU’s new head coach.

I say that not as an insider who knows who the next coach will be – or when it will be announced – but I can say for certain that I will be backing the new head coach, 100%.

What choice do we have?

We’re Buff fans, and we’re going to continue to be Buff fans. Loyalty is not something which develops overnight, and it doesn’t disappear overnight, either.

I’m not going to take down my diplomas and scribble “Ohio State” or “Alabama” across the top, just so I can back a winning program.

The Buffs are like a relative with whom we don’t always get along – the estranged brother; the crazy aunt. Sometimes we are embarrassed by them … Sometimes we try and distance ourselves from them … but we never stop loving them.

That being said, there is a very strong hope – a desperate hope? – that CU athletic director Rick George will bring to Boulder a “home run” hire. A hire which makes the nation’s media – and national recruits – sit up from their laptops and say “Wow!”.

UCLA made a “splash hire” this past off-season with the hiring of Chip Kelly … and you can see how it has carried over.

The Bruins opened the 2018 season with an 0-5 record. That hadn’t happened in Westwood since 1943. UCLA finished the season 3-9. You want to know the last time the Bruins posted a nine-loss season? Try 1940.

And yet … the Bruin Nation couldn’t be happier, and more excited about their team and their future.

Nebraska made a “splash hire” this past off-season with the hiring of Scott Frost … and you can see how it has carried over.

The Cornhuskers opened the 2018 season with an 0-6 record. That hadn’t happened in Lincoln since, well, ever. Nebraska finished the season with a 4-8 record, posting back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1960-61.

And yet … the Husker fans are already busy planning their 2019 “Revenge Tour”, which will open with a planned on beat down of the Buffs in Boulder next September.

Hell, even the Arizona schools got national ink with their 2018 off-season hires. Arizona got Kevin Sumlin, fresh from Texas A&M. Arizona State raised some eyebrows – but got plenty of attention – by hiring Herm Edwards.

While it remains undetermined whether those hires will work out, the fan bases were energized by the hires. Some energy, some positive “mojo”, is what the CU program desperately needs.

Which leads me to …

“Here We Go Again”

There have been a few names associated with the CU coaching search which make sense to some, but, at least to me, will bring about a shake of the head rather than a jump for joy.

Let’s just say the “optics” won’t look good.

— Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy … Don’t get me wrong. I am a big fan of CU’s all-time leading rusher. I just don’t see Bieniemy as a good fit for Colorado. Such a hire would instantly bring back stories of the failed Embree/Bieniemy experiment of 2011-12. I hope that someday soon Bieniemy gets an NFL head coaching job. I will cheer for his team … but he shouldn’t be coming back to Boulder for anything more than reunions and celebrations of past stars;

— Boise State head coach Bryan Harsin … Harsin could be the next Chris Petersen, the next Boise State head coach to take over a Pac-12 program and lead them to Pac-12 championships. Or … he could be the next Dan Hawkins. Buff fans would certainly hope for the former, and they may be right. But unless Harsin came to Boulder and instantly – and I mean instantly – turned things around, the comparisons to Hawkins would be unrelenting;

— Utah State head coach Matt Wells … Yes, I know he has already been announced as the next head coach at Texas Tech, and more power to him. Wells, though, only went 44-34 at Utah State, and is riding the crest of a 10-2 season into a Power Five conference head coaching position. Red Raider fans are looking at Utah State’s improvement over the past three seasons – 3-9, 6-7, 10-2  as a sign of what Wells can do. That, sad to say, was the exact same argument Buff fans made about Mike MacIntyre and his three years at San Jose State – 1-12, 5-7, 10-2 – before he came to Boulder;

— Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker … Listed on some boards as one of the top contenders, Tucker has one big strike against him … CSU head coach Mike Bobo. Imagine how much fun the pundits in the Denver media (not to mention all of the 2019 preseason magazines) will have with the 2019 season-opening matchup between the Bobo, Georgia’s former offensive coordinator, coming into the final Denver version of the Rocky Mountain Showdown riding a five-game losing streak … taking on Mel Tucker, former Georgia defensive coordinator, coming into the final Denver version of the Rocky Mountain showdown leading a team riding a seven-game losing streak? Yuck. I’ll definitely get over it if Tucker is the choice (he’s coached with some big names, and is known as a top recruiter) … but, damn. Former Georgia OC v. former Georgia DC in the Rocky Mountain Showdown? Not a great storyline have to deal with for nine months …

— Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt … Another name which is often associated with the CU head coaching search. In some sense, it’s a good fit. Leavitt certainly knows Boulder, and would return to the Champions Center knowing a good percentage of the CU roster. He would be given some positive national press for being the master-mind behind CU’s only good season in the past decade. But … there are also many who have soured on Leavitt since dumped CU for a lateral (albeit much higher paying) move to Oregon. His personality is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it might be a hard sell in some Buff circles, which is the last thing you are looking for in a new head coach. Leavitt’s dream job was always Kansas State … and he might just end up there.

There are plenty of names being bandied about right now for the CU head coaching position. With a tight lid being kept on the search by Rick George, your guess is as good as pretty much anyone else’s right now.

The wait will be over soon.

The Buff Nation will be introduced to 26th head coach in CU history, and we will celebrate the hire. There will be those who will nit-pick the choice, pointing out his flaws. There will be others who will point to the choice’s strong suits as clear evidence that the new coach will be able to restore glory to the CU football program.

I’ll be monitoring the national reaction. Is it a “home run”? … or a “head-scratcher”?

Is the hire a clear sign that Mike MacIntyre left a program ready to rise, enticing a nationally recognized candidate?

Or will it be an “up-and-comer”, with great potential, but no proven track record of success?

Rick George can’t afford to make a mistake here. The facilities are there (thanks to George). Many of the pieces are in place on the roster (thanks to MacIntyre).

This could be the moment that we look back upon fondly, noting that this was the time and place when it all came together, and “The Rise” became more than just a one year slogan.

We’ll find out soon enough.


22 Replies to “Wanted: A “Splash Hire””

  1. Welp kinda looks like my super secret source has changed her mind. But I will not expose her. She was right down to the last 2. Big swing vote came in.

    Note: But it could flip back depending……………………………??
    Note 2: All defensive coordinators all the time.

    1. At this point … a Mario Cristobal clone.
      — A successful coordinator from a Power-Five school;
      — Who can bring in quality coordinators and assistants; and
      — Who can recruit (Oregon’s class is currently ranked No. 5 in the country).

      … It looks like may get the first item on the checklist. We’ll have to trust No. 2 and No. 3 will happen as well …

  2. Gotta be a long term hire.
    Cannot replicate a WacMac 6 years
    Other WacMacs are out there. Ignore them
    Gotta have a powerful history
    Has to want to retire here. No moon jumper.
    Has to have a powerful staff ready and waiting
    Needs a personality
    Needs to be a real leader. Not a me too and it’s all about me too guy.
    Needs to be nationally recognized.
    No diamond in the rough.

    Yup all that. The first things I am gonna be looking at. And then it starts eh?

    Can’t wait………………and neither can you.

      1. Call your idol WacMac. He’ll tell ya if you can get him out from behind his COY awards. Who iw wacmac and how is he related to you?

        Still in pout mode. So quiet and he had so much to say before the axe fell.

        Yup he would be the guy to ask.


        Note: Long term…………..I’d start with the Utah Coach and go from there. Same boat as Buffs. Gonna get to some bowls, win some divisions, etc etc. That is it………..long term
        Note: WacMac would say 3 but he got lucky and got zix

        1. Glad you at least answered the question, whoever you are. 12-ish years. I actually agree. I think if you can keep a coach who is having success for a decade? Tha’s A big win.

          Funny thing about Whittingham. He was almost canned three years ago.

          Go Buffs

          1. Almost?

            WacMac was almost a good coach.

            Almost only counts in
            Hand grenades.


            Note: Who is WacMac really. Related to you? Hiding behind COY.

  3. So is the decision made or not?
    Of course it is.
    When will it be announced.? Tomorrow. At the right time so it gets really big coverage.
    Is the new staff decided? OC and DC? Could be.

    Here come the New Mighty Buffalo.


    Note: Could I have been misinformed? Maybe?……………………………Maybe not.

    Note: The hunt……………….always the hunt……………….

  4. Thanks forthright up and the forum for us fans to vent/hypothesis during this time!

    It is funny but we reached very different conclusions based on a couple of key points that we agree on. Specifically about Leavitt. I totally agree we cannot afford a mistake here again. This particularly points me to Leavitt. Is he going to be a home run hire. I think he might but for mostly intangible reasons (see my previous posts about the right kind of “crazy” we need). But more to the point we know exactly what we are getting. He knows exactly what he is getting. We truly have actual facts to back up what he can do here because he helped architect it here. The fact that Oregon upped his pay again after a year there shows even more what other knowledgeable people believe about him as well. Your other comment about him rubbing some people the wrong way I think really comes from him and Mac disagreeing. I read into that perhaps what he was doing was what has been missing over the last two years and Mac and the staff were on the wrong side of those disagreements. I have a hard time faulting anyone for leaving a position for 2 x the money. And with his raise this year it was actually 3 times the money. If Rick George can’t understand that then he is not the right person for the job.

    I know the rumors around the K State job keep coming up. If we can’t lock up this “Home Run” coach by Sunday then you have to pull the trigger on Leavitt. As a sign of Leavitt’s commitment make the buy out huge with no K State option.

    Just to be clear are you thinking Day or the Washington DC are your home run guys?

  5. Q: if you are one of the top 2 or 3 coordinators in the SEC, why would you want to go be a HC in the Pac-12?

    You and your staff are going to make double or maybe even triple the income, lower cost of living, and fertile recruiting areas right in your back yard. All you have to do is wait for one of the inevitable HC jobs to open up.

    BTW – Stuart thanks for all you do with CUatthegame!

    1. Indeed. My biggest question in this process has been how well can Rick close the gap between who he wants to coach the Buffs, and who wants to coach the Buffs.

      For Tucker, and some others (Day) you touched on some things they may consider, for sure.

      We’ll probably never know if they end up getting target #1 or target #10, but right now, it’s looking like Les had other ideas. Day may have other ideas (OSU AD denying rumors Meyer is stepping down). Leavitt? Tucker? Lake? Others? We’ll see.

      Personally, I am hoping they can get Lake. Although I think Saheeb’s take on Tucker vs. Bobo is spot on; not really a similar path to coordinators at GA. So, if that’s the guy, I can see the appeal. Mason seems like a swap for MacIntyre, to me.

      Whoever it is, I’ll be supporting them, and the Buff program, but it’s definitely interesting to watch this play out.

      In the meantime, the Pac 12 Championship should be fun to watch.

      Maybe there will be some announcement and new coach introduction this weekend?

      Either way, I sure hope Rick gets this right.

      Go Buffs.

  6. Yo Stuart,

    Any thoughts on who the Buffs might hire that would be “splash” hire?

    Any NFL coaches that didn’t cut it on their first go round, maybe? Not sure if there are any splash college guys left.


  7. What about Steve Sarkisian? He is on no one’s list. I know the dude has some baggage, but he has major head coaching experience, Saban experience and drive the offense.

    Curious about your thoughts.

  8. Stu – Really appreciate all you’ve done for us all during our “down” times and Good times!… Do you see any one not publicly known that may be in play ? Time seems to becoming an issue soon,,,,,,,,,,,,

    1. With the Early Signing Day (December 19th) looming, timing is certainly an issue.
      There are only two weekends for official visitors left, and one is this weekend … so that’s pretty much off the table.
      The only logical reason for waiting to announce is that it is going to be one of the coordinators who have championship games this weekend. That puts into play Georgia defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, Ohio State offensive coordinator Ryan Day; Washington defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake; and Alabama defensive coordinator Josh Lupoi.
      If it’s not a coordinator whose name is being withheld until after their conference title game … then I’m not sure what the plan is.

      Sure, you want to get the right guy, but recruiting is, well, everything when it comes to college football. You don’t want to sacrifice a Class if you don’t have to, and Rick George fired Mike MacIntyre before the end of the season in part so that the Recruiting Class could be salvaged. I can’t see him waiting past this weekend to make an announcement without a really, really good reason why.

  9. Exciting times indeed. I believe Mr. George understands what needs to be done and I believe his football acumen is as good as anyone out there. New coach needs to be a recruiter and a motivator. Someone who can and will surround himself with smart and motivated assistants. A coach that can motivate not only the players, but the assistants as well.

    I too will support the new coach 100%. My last name is Lake, and my grand father’s name was James, so hoping that they announce Jimmy Lake as our new coach 😀

  10. The more I hear about tucker the more I want him. Lots of nfl experience and he’s worked in college under Saban and tressel. What I really like to hear touigh is that he’s a great recruiter players love him and that he is super positive but has some fire. I don’t think a comparison to Mike Bobo is apropos asbhes none of those things. Plus he’s a former nfl dB and that would likelynkeepnsome of the stud commit dbs we have or who recently dcommitted to stay on board. I also like that he’s black and it would be cool for Cu to be the first to hire two black head coaches (my guess is that would be a first), but more importantly it sounds like tucker has the nfl and college experience and knows how to recruit to be successful. I will also be fairly pleased if it’s leavitt but with a bit more trepidation.

    1. Hey MS,

      Hope all is well with you these Mighty Days. Welp, I wonder who it is? A defensive guy pretty much for sure eh?

      Go Buffs

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