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Mile High Sports

Candidates are emerging to fill void left by Embree

The press conference officially announcing the dismissal of Jon Embree hasn’t even taken place yet and the lists of possible candidates to replace him a CU’s head coach are already emerging.

Twitter is abuzz with suggestions for athletic director Mike Bohn, as he searches for his third head coach since taking the Colorado job in 2005, and news sites are starting to report some “leading candidates” to become the Buffaloes 25th head coach.

Who will get the job? Only time will tell. But here’s a list of 19 names, ranging from serious contenders to long shots, that have been mentioned as possibilities in Boulder.

1. Mike Bellotti (not currently employed) – Widely credited with being the guy who put Oregon football on the map, Bellotti went 116-55 during his 14 seasons in Eugene. He’s been out of the game since 2008, however, when he resigned to become the Ducks athletic director, a post he left two years later to take an ESPN gig. Chances of Landing at CU: 10%

2. Art Briles (Baylor head coach) – He’s 56 years old and already making $2.5 million per year in Waco. But he has turned around two programs, leading both Houston and Baylor to 10-win seasons in his fourth year at each post. But he has deep Texas roots; he was born there (Rule), went to school there (Texas Tech) and has never coached outside of the state. Chances of Landing at CU: 1%

3. Troy Calhoun (head coach at Air Force) – The Falcons head coach was on Bohn’s short list two years ago, so he’ll undoubtably be on it again. In six seasons at the Academy, Calhoun has posted an impressive 47-29 record and gone to six bowl games. While Air Force is his alma mater, he might relish a chance to compete in a BCS conference. Chances of Landing at CU: 20%

4. Gene Chizik (not currently employed) – Two years after winning a national title at Auburn, Chizik was shown the door following this season’s disappointing 3-9 record. It was his first losing season in four years with the Tigers, but compliments the disastrous 5-19 mark he posted at Iowa State to give Chizik an even 38-38 career record as a head coach. Chances of Landing at CU: 1%

5. David Cutcliffe (head coach at Duke) – A trendy name around Colorado due to the fact that he helped Peyton Manning during his offseason rehab. But he’s also an intriguing name because he’s already had some success at two difficult stops, leading Ole Miss to five bowls games in seven years and getting Duke to .500 this season. Chances of Landing at CU: 5%

6. Tim DeRuyter (head coach at Fresno State) – The former Air Force player (1982-84), assistant coach (1991-94) and defensive coordinator (2007-09) certainly has ties to the area. And he’s had big success in his first year as a head coach, leading Fresno State to a 9-3 record this season, including wins over Colorado (69-14), CSU (28-7) and Air Force (48-15). Chances of Landing at CU: 15%

7. Butch Jones (head coach at Cincinnati) – A hot candidate, especially considering the fact that another former Bearcats coach (Brian Kelly) is having a big year (leading Notre Dame to the BCS title game). Jones went 27-13 in three seasons at Central Michigan and is 22-14 in the same time span at Cincinnati. He’s a rising star. Chances of Landing at CU: 5%

8. Dave Logan (head coach at Cherry Creek High School) – He’s a former Buffs standout, having starred in the 1970s in Boulder, and has had tremendous success as a high school coach in Colorado. But his six state titles may not be enough to overcome the “prep” label attached to his name, which has been a deterrent since Gerry Faust flamed out at Notre Dame. Chances of Landing at CU: 1%

9. Gus Malzahn (head coach at Arkansas State) – Malzahn was the offensive coordinator at Auburn when the won a national title, and is well-known for both his hurry-up attack and wildcat offense. In his first season as the top man at Arkansas State, he led the Red Wolves to an 8-3 record, making him an attractive candidate to take the next step. Chances of Landing at CU: 2%

10. Derek Mason (defensive coordinator at Stanford) – In terms of “hot” coordinators, Mason’s list is certainly high on every list. In his third season at Stanford, after three years on the Minnesota Vikings staff, the Cardinal have the top defense in the Pac-12 (16.9 ppg) and the 12th best in the nation. Chance of Landing at CU: 5%

11. Bill McCartney (not currently employed) – The legendary CU coach wanted the gig two years ago when it went to Embree. So even at 72 years old, his name will come up again. And with the way Bill Snyder has turned around Kansas State during his second stint in Manhattan, going back in time might be a trendy pick for the Buffs. Chances of Landing at CU: 5%

12. Chris Petersen (head coach at Boise State) – During his seven seasons with the Broncos, Petersen is an astounding 82-8. That makes him an unbelievably attractive candidate. His $2 million per year salary and Boise State’s up-in-the-air conference status also makes him potentially available. It would take a Brinks truck, but it would be a splash. Chances of Landing at CU: 1%

13. Bobby Petrino (not currently employed) – He carries a ton of baggage, having been run off from Arkansas this summer for an extramarital affair and being the guy who bailed on the Atlanta Falcons after only 13 games, but he’s a winner. In eight seasons as a college head coach, Petrino has posted a 75-26 record and won 10-plus games four times. Chances of Landing at CU: 1%

14. Paul Rhoads (head coach at Iowa State) – In four seasons in Ames, Rhoads has been the definition of mediocrity, posting a 24-26 record. But he has led the Cyclones to a pair of bowl games and only earns $1.6 million per season, putting him in CU’s potential price range. Still, he’d be a tough sell to boosters and fans. Chance of Landing at CU: 1%

15. Kyle Shanahan (offensive coordinator for Washington Redskins) – The son of former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan, he’s certainly familiar with the area. But the 32-year-old wunderkind has zero experience in a top job and has never been a coordinator at the college level, making him a big-time gamble of a hire. Chances of Landing at CU: 10%

16. Charlie Strong (head coach at Louisville) – Going 23-14 in three seasons, including 9-2 this year, at Louisville makes Strong an attractive candidate. But unless he’s concerned about the status of the Big East, and thus an automatic BCS berth for the conference champion, it’s doubtful he would see Louisville-to-Colorado as a step up. Chances of Landing at CU: 2%

17. Jeff Tedford (not currently employed) – Tedford inherited a 1-10 program at Cal, won seven games during his first season on the job and went 82-57 overall in 11 seasons at Berkeley. But the 51-year-old coach may also be seen as a Pac-12 retread, considering the fact that the Bears just dumped him as their head coach. Chances of Landing at CU: 10%

18. Justin Wilcox (defensive coordinator at Washington) – Ironically, Wilcox got his coaching start as a grad assistant for former CU head coach Dan Hawkins at Boise State. At only 36, he’s risen through the coaching ranks, serving as the DC back with the Broncos, at Tennessee and this season at Washington. Chances of Landing at CU: 5%

19. John Wristen (head coach at CSU-Pueblo) – He doesn’t just have experience at resurrecting programs; he’s started them from nothing, having taken the ThunderWolves from non-existent to No. 1 in the country in just five seasons. Wristen also has CU ties, having served on the Buffs staff twice (most recently from 1999-2006). Chances of Landing at CU: 15%

For more news on the CU head coaching search, CLICK HERE

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