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Nine potential candidates to replace Mel Tucker as CU’s head coach

(Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Now that the shock has worn off, at least a little bit, with the overnight news that Mel Tucker was leaving Colorado’s football program to become the head coach at Michigan State, attention turns to what the Buffaloes will do next. After all, they’re a team that is currently without a leader.

When addressing the media this morning, athletic director Rick George said the university would name and interim head coach this afternoon. That’ll put someone in place to handle Tucker’s duties for the time being.

But pretty quickly, George and Lance Carl – CU’s assistant athletic director and the supervisor of the football program – will need to fill the position on a permanent basis. And it won’t be easy given the timing of things.

It’ll be difficult to find another current coach who will want to do to his employer and players what Tucker did to the Buffs, so that will limit the field. And there aren’t a lot of talented, qualified coaches who are currently sitting on the sidelines looking for work.

It’s a tough task, but an important one. Whoever Colorado goes with will be tied to the program for years to come, meaning George and Carl can’t afford to make a mistake.

Who’s in the running? Well according to, these are the current favorites to get the job:

Darrin Chiaverini – Currently, Chiaverini is the team’s assistant head coach and wide receivers coach, so it’d be an easy transition to make. He’s also a former Buffs player, so there is a connection to the program that could be important after the Tucker fiasco. He’s also a well-regarded recruiter.

Andy Avalos – Avalos is currently the defensive coordinator at Oregon, so he is familiar with the Pac-12. In addition, he has CU ties, as he was a graduate assistant with the Buffaloes from 2006-08.

Graham Harrell – The former record-setting quarterback at Texas Tech is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at USC, making him another candidate who is familiar with the conference. He was also the OC at North Texas for three seasons.

Blake Anderson – Anderson has been the head coach at Arkansas State since 2014, where he’s one two Sun Belt titles, a 47-30 overall record and six consecutive bowl games.

Eric Bieniemy – He was a star player for the Buffs in the late-1980s, as well as an assistant coach on two different occasions in the 2000s. Bieniemy is currently the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and is expected to be a hot head coach candidate in the NFL.

Jim Leavitt – Currently the defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic, Leavitt filled the same role at CU from 2015-16. The 63-year-old coach is well-traveled and comes with a ton of experience.

Craig Bohl – Currently the head coach at Wyoming, Bohl has led the Cowboys to four-straight winning seasons and three bowl games. He played defensive back for Nebraska in the 1970s, which may rub some CU fans the wrong way.

In addition, a couple of other names are worth considering:

Tony Alford – Many thought he’d get the Colorado State job, given that he played for the Rams in the late-1980s. He’d be a good fit for the Buffs due to his recruiting connections, which run deep given his last two jobs have been at Ohio State and Notre Dame.

Gary Barnett – Barnett enjoyed a lot of success as the Buffs head coach from 1999-2005, but he left under all sorts of clouds. He’s returned to the program, however, on the school’s radio broadcasts, so perhaps the wounds have healed. If CU is looking for a short-term solution, the veteran coach might be an interesting idea.


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