With the news that Colorado has parted ways with coach Mike MacIntyre, here’s a look at the candidates. MacIntyre’s buyout of nearly $10 million could loom here, as Colorado is not flush with cash. Here’s a look at athletic director Rick George’s potential top candidates to replace him, as a dearth of quality West Coast coach candidates could end up with George seeking a candidate from further east.
1. Matt Wells, Utah State: Sources consistently say George prefers a showman as a coach. MacIntyre didn’t have much sizzle. Wells has a big personality and is the hottest coach on the West Coast. He’s led Utah State, a definitive have-not in the Mountain West, to five bowls in six seasons.
2. Bryan Harsin, Boise State: He’s stayed patient, as he’s well-compensated and has the best job in the league. He’s led Boise to five straight bowls, including a Fiesta Bowl victory in 2014, and holds a winning percentage well over 75 percent. Another former Boise State coach, Dan Hawkins, flopped here. But that era started in Colorado’s Big 12 days. Harsin comes from the low-key Chris Petersen tree and may not be the magnetic personality George is seeking.
3. Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia: It’s likely not going to get much better for Holgorsen than this season at West Virginia. He’s a quirky personality, which could be a fit in Boulder. And being able to recruit Texas harder would be a more natural tie to his roots. His quarterback-friendly system would sell tickets and attract recruits. Can they afford him?
4. Mike Norvell, Memphis: He’s got Pac-12 experience from his time at Arizona State and would give the program an immediate jolt of offensive acumen. He’s led Memphis to back-to-back seasons with a top-10 offense, and that philosophy would follow him to the next job.
5. Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator: He’d be a sentimental favorite as a graduate and famous alum. He’s also part of the most rollicking offensive show in the NFL, which is intriguing. What could hurt him here is that his stint as offensive coordinator under ex-Buffaloes coach Jon Embree was undistinguished as they ranked 92nd and 119th.
6. Neal Brown, Troy: He’s another awkward geographic fit, as he’s been primarily a coach in the South and Southwest, spending the past decade at Troy, Texas Tech and Kentucky. Troy’s explosive offenses and upsets of Nebraska and LSU over the past two seasons have a lot of folks taking notice.
7. Ryan Day, Ohio State OC: He’s the top offensive coordinator on the board, which makes him a logical candidate at most open jobs. This is a pinch of an awkward regional fit, as he’s been primarily an Eastern coach outside of a forgettable season as the 49ers quarterback coach.
8. Jimmy Lake, Washington DC: He’s the West coast coordinator with the most buzz around him, as he’s thriving in his first year calling Washington’s defense. (Washington is in the top 20 in both scoring and total defense). Lake is also an engaging personality and dynamic recruiter who could fit George’s desire for some buzz.
9. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State: He’s an established and experienced coach with ties to the league and a history of success. He took over a moribund program and led it to the top of the Mountain West standings and consecutive bowl games. At 57, would he leave his alma mater?
10. Jason Candle, Toledo: Even with the Rockets taking a dip this year, he’s the most marketable of the MAC coaches after winning the league last season. His ability as a play-caller to develop consistently prolific offenses as both a head coach and coordinator is key. Does an AD view him as the next Matt Campbell, who he followed at Toledo?
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