Colorado coaching candidates: Bronco Mendenhall, Troy Calhoun, head picks to replace Carl Dorrell

Colorado has rarely been worse — as a program, revenue-wise and relevance-wise. The once grand program has reached a level not seen since Bill McCartney arrived in the early 1980s.

This is a crucial time for the Buffaloes. Before they hire a coach to replace Karl Dorrell, who was fired Sunday after an 0-5 start to his third season, they must prove they are committed to football.

CBS Sports spoke with multiple sources about the job on Sunday. Unprompted, they all listed this “commitment” as part of the job profile.

“The complications are that it’s a difficult, complicated landscape. It’s different than most people think,” said one coach familiar with Colorado.

“I wouldn’t wish this job on anyone,” said another coach.

That’s hard to believe in a school that has won a national championship. But currently, Colorado doesn’t know what conference it will play in. His recruitment has collapsed. Now, it is looking for its fifth coach since 2010.

You’d think Colorado would need to hire a coach. The job demands it. But if there’s an opportunity to get a new one, look at the third name on this list.

Bronco Mendenhall, former Virginia and BYU coach: Mendenhall needed a reset in December when he left UVA. It was one of those Chris Peterson things where the job had gotten too big. Bronco cited family obligations, but the buzz is that he’s got the bug again. This is just about the perfect fit. Mendenhall was 99-43 at BYU before an impressive 28-21 run at Virginia over his final five seasons. Mendenhall is as real as it gets. After killing it at BYU and winning at least eight games twice at Virginia, he would do well at a public university willing to spend money to be relevant again.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun: If you want a Rocky Mountain version of Lance Leipold, Calhoun is your man. The Falcons continue to lead the FBS in rushing. Four times since 2017, Air Force has won 10 games. beat CU again this season by 31 points. Calhoun is a former NFL offensive coordinator. Don’t worry about the triple option thing. He runs it because he is in the service academy. Calhoun would run a conventional offense in Colorado.

Ryan Walters, Illinois defensive coordinator: Rick George should take a long, hard look at this rising star. Walters played safety for Gary Barnett and Dan Hawkins from 2004-06. In 2009, he was a student assistant before embarking on a career that took him to Arizona, Oklahoma, Missouri and Illinois. Bret Bielema thought highly of the 36-year-old Walters to go get him from Mizzou. The Illini currently have the No. 3 overall defense. Because of the complexity at CU, Walters likely needs a first job elsewhere.

Auburn coach Bryan Harsin: We’re providing this as a public service announcement, but it makes perfect sense. Harsin is a trout out of water in the SEC. They are much more comfortable in the cool, native currents of the West. Okay, enough with the analogies. Call it bouncing after the inevitable. But that would be the problem with hiring. Harsin would come to CU in rebounding.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy: This is another name that should be on the list … just because. Bieniemy is an all-time hero with the Buffaloes. His NFL accomplishments as a Super Bowl assistant should go without saying. But there is concern that no NFL team has signed him. What could kill this candidacy is obvious: Bieniemy was Jon Embree’s offensive coordinator. Embree lasted two years.

Dan Mullen, ESPN analyst: Mullen is interested in returning to the game after a year on the sidelines following a collapse in Florida. I don’t know how his personality would fit with Colorado, but the Buffaloes should definitely consider one of the best coaches not currently leading a team. Mullen has a career record of 103-61 with seven bowl wins. He remains a quarterback quarterback, and as we’ve found time and time again, if you’ve got a quarterback, you’ve got a chance.

Willie Fritz, Tulane coach: One of the most respected names in the game. Fritz showed his ability eight days ago in an upset at Kansas State and followed that up with a win in Houston. He has coached at every level — high school, community college, Division II, FCS, FBS. A Power Five opportunity awaits. Fritz is off to one of his best starts at 4-1 this season. One downside: Fritz is 62.

Barry Odom, Arkansas defensive coordinator: Odom is ready to put himself out there three years removed from being fired at Missouri. Arkansas went to another level defensively and Sam Pittman hired him in December 2019. Odom shaved 85 yards per game than the Hogs average from 2020-21. He also brings coaching experience having gone 25-25 at Missouri.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *