Who should be next coach at Colorado after Dan Hawkins? ChatterTV Big 12 week 11 picks | Conference chatter

Colorado fired Hawkins on Tuesday

Colorado fired Hawkins on Tuesday by esorrentino

There was a decent chance the Buffaloes would part with Hawkins after this season. Kansas expedited the process, however, last weekend, when the Jayhawks erased a 28-point deficit in the fourth quarter, scored 35 unanswered points and beat Colorado, 52-45. Of course, KU hadn’t won a Big 12 game this season before the comeback. That was the final straw for Hawkins.

Some possible replacements for Hawkins I came across made sense. Others, not so much.

When realistically thinking about a replacement, keep the following in mind: Hawkins’ buyout was $2 million, and the CU athletic department isn’t exactly raking in the dollars right now. CU athletic director Mike Bohn, a KU alum, said it’s unlikely the successor would make more than $2 million per year. Hawkins made $1 million per year.

Right there, I was able to cross a few names off the list of rumors I saw online.

First, Les Miles. I don’t think so. Yes, he was the offensive line coach at Colorado from 1982-1986, but why would he consider leaving LSU for Colorado? Plus, the guy makes $3.8 million per year at LSU. Next, please.

Jon Gruden (current ESPN commentator, former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Bucs head coach), same kind of deal. Would cost too much. Plus, should Gruden want to get back into coaching, the Dallas Cowboys are looking. That opportunity seems a bit more attractive.

Another name that naturally pops up when coaching vacancies arise is former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. Again, not too sure if CU has the dollars to offer Leach, who signed a five-year, $12.7 million deal in 2009, but was fired last season in the wake of allegations he mistreated Tech receiver Adam James. Plus, it seems Leach is enjoying his life in Key West, Fla., right now. Who the heck wouldn’t?

Want a front-runner? Right now, it could be Bill McCartney, who coached at Colorado from 1982-1994. McCartney led Colorado to its only national title in football in 1990. He was 93-55-5 at CU and made a bowl game in nine of his 13 seasons. Only thing is, McCartney hasn’t been involved with football since he retired from coaching in 1994. He’s currently 70 years old. Could he make like Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (age 71) and revive the CU program?

There’s no doubt McCartney is interested: “If Colorado was interested in me, I would definitely be interested in returning,” McCartney told the Denver Post. Doesn’t get any clearer than that.

Another name that makes sense is Mike Bellotti, the winningest coach in the history of Oregon football. Bellotti currently works as an ESPN college football analyst. Before that, he coached at Oregon for 14 seasons (1995-2008) and was the Ducks’ athletic director from July 2009-March 2010. With Colorado bolting the Big 12 for the Pac-12, as it will be called next season, Bellotti’s experience in the Pac-10 and his ability to recruit on the West Coast would be a benefit. Bellotti made slightly over $1.9 million in his last season in 2008, so he appears to barely be in CU’s range.

Brian Cabral, the interim head coach at Colorado for the last three games this season, must be seriously considered. What if he ignites a sudden spark with CU that wasn’t seen at any point this year under Hawkins? It’s not like Cabral is new to coaching. He’s been the Buffs’ linebackers coach for 21 years. He played at Colorado from 1974-1977. He won a Super Bowl ring with the Chicago Bears in 1985. Cabral deserves a shot.

Troy Calhoun, head coach at Air Force, is a popular name being dropped by columnists and bloggers online. Calhoun, in his fourth season at the Academy, has done wonders for the program. The Falcons went 9-4 in 2007, 8-5 in 2008 and 8-5 in 2009. They are 6-4 this season.

A name that KU fans will obviously follow is Mark Mangino.

Former KU coach Mark Mangino leaves the field after KU lost to Missouri, 41-39, on Nov. 28, 2009 in Kansas City, Mo.

Former KU coach Mark Mangino leaves the field after KU lost to Missouri, 41-39, on Nov. 28, 2009 in Kansas City, Mo. by esorrentino

In a teleconference with local reporters on Thursday, Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano said he wants “a coach who is either successful now as a head coach or has recent coaching experience either with someone from the Pac-12 or the Big 12,” according to the Denver Post. That may put former KU coach Mangino in the conversation and eliminate some others. Mangino was mentioned by NBC college football blogger John Taylor as a possibility.

Other possibilities: Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, Minnesota Vikings running backs coach and former Colorado All-American Eric Bieniemy. The list goes on.

Searching for a coach was something KU fans thought about for quite some time last year before Turner Gill was hired on Dec. 13, 2009.

Who do you think is the right hire for CU?

And last but not least: For my Big 12 picks in week 11, check out the latest episode of Conference ChatterTV below:

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.

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