A week after Midnight Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State, Colorado athletic director Rick George continues searching for the school’s next football coach. He is working through interviews and looking to set up others as he tries to find the right fit, a source told Denver7 on Tuesday.
The school has contacted former Buffaloes legendary player and current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Per source, Bieniemy remains in the mix for the job, and clarity about his candidacy should crystallize soon as he returns from a planned vacation following the Super Bowl LIV victory.
According to an NFL Network report, CU is expected to interview former Wisconsin and Arkansas boss Bret Bielema. He seeks to return to the college game after coaching with the Patriots and recently joining the Giants as an outside linebackers coach. Bielema produced success at Wisconsin, posting a 68-24 record in seven seasons. It did not, however, translate at Arkansas where he went 29-34 before his dismissal.
Bieniemy rose to fame as a running back in Boulder, finishing third in the 1990 Heisman Trophy voting in the same season CU won the co-national championship with Georgia Tech. He interviewed for several NFL head coaching positions last month, but failed to land a job after helping the Chiefs develop one of the most dynamic attacks in decades with Super Bowl and former league MVP Patrick Mahomes.
Bieniemy has worked with the Chiefs since 2013, serving as coach Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. He has coached at CU as an assistant twice, including as the offensive boss during an unsuccessful run in 2010-11 when the Buffs compiled a 4-21 record under Jon Embree. George worked at CU when Bieniemy starred as a player.
George insisted last week that the next coach needs to share his passion for the school. Feelings remain raw among boosters after Tucker used CU as a steppingstone following a single 5-7 season. His exit was complicated by his disingenuous actions -- he was reaffirming his commitment to CU as he was negotiating a deal with the Spartans, leaving multiple boosters telling Denver7 they felt "conned."
Interim coach Darrin Chiaverini also remains under consideration. He told Denver7 last week that he “bleeds black and gold,” and made it clear he wants the full-time job. Chiaverini has a big personality, establishing himself as one the country’s top recruiters the past three seasons.
Other candidates who have received buzz, though the school’s level of interest is unclear: former USC coach Steve Sarkisian, ex-UCLA boss Jim Mora Jr., Cal coach Justin Wilcox, Arkansas State's Blake Anderson and Missouri defensive coordinator Ryan Walters, a former CU player and rising star in the industry. Walters, whose colllege playing career ended in 2008, has not been contacted for an interview as of Tuesday afternoon.