Karl Dorrell was fired after starting the season 0-5. Dorrell was a questionable hire right from the start. Colorado was put in a tough position after Mel Tucker left in February 2020 for Michigan State. Dorrell coached at Colorado in the 90s before eventually being named the UCLA head coach in 2003. He was fired in 2007 and spent the next decade in the NFL with the exception of a one year stint at Vanderbilt. Dorrell went 4-2 in his first season but managed only four wins in 2021. Colorado average margin of defeat this season is 29 points which was enough for the administration to fire Dorrell. Colorado is a complete rebuild which is why some candidates may not have interest in the position.
Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator) – We are just going to get this one out of the way early. Bieniemy should be one of the candidates at the top of the list. He has been rumored to be a candidate each time the job has opened but has continued to stay in the NFL. We have no reason to believe this time will be different. The Colorado administration should still approach Bieniemy to see if he has interest in coming home. Bieniemy was an All-American and National Champion running back for Colorado in 1990. He has also helped orchestra the high powered Kansas City offense led by Patrick Mahomes. Bieniemy has interviewed for NFL openings and will likely pass up an opportunity to return to college.
Troy Calhoun (Air Force Head Coach) – Troy Calhoun has been the head coach of the Air Force Falcons since 2007. Calhoun has registered a career record of 115–76. Air Force has made a bowl game in 11 of the 15 seasons he has been the head coach and are destined for their 12th this season. Fans see coaches at military academies and believe they will run the triple option at their next school. Calhoun is fully capable of running another offensive system, he simply chooses against it because of the skill sets he has at Air Force. He may choose to stay at Air Force because it is his alma mater but if he believes he has accomplished everything he can with the Falcons he may look to move on.
Bronco Mendenhall (Former BYU and Virginia Head Coach) – Bronco Mendenhall stepped down as the Virginia head coach after the 2021 season but made it clear he was not retiring. Mendenhall spent almost his whole career on the west coast before taking the job at Virginia. He has been living in Montana and has publicly stated he is interested in returning to the sidelines. Mendenhall owns a career 135–81 between BYU and Virginia. Would Mendenhall be interested in a job which is considered to be a full rebuild? He is only 56 years old but a coach with his accomplishments and accolades may look for an opportunity with team who is ready to win.
Chris Petersen (Former Boise State and Washington Head Coach) – Chris Petersen has stated he left Washington due to stress and anxiety as a head coach. Petersen has had a few years to recharge and could be looking to reenter the coaching reigns. The former Boise State head coach is one of the best coaches of the past two decades. Petersen went 92-12 at Boise State including two wins in the Fiesta Bowl. If Petersen is interested in returning to coaching he will have numerous suitors. Would a rebuilding a program be of interest to Petersen or would he even be interested in coaching again?
Ryan Walters (Illinois Defensive Coordinator) – Ryan Walters is quickly becoming one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. Walters played for Colorado from 2004 to 2008. He was hired as the defensive coordinator before the 2021 season. Illinois finished 29th in scoring defense despite their 5-7 record. The Fighting Illini held opponents to 24 points or less in nine of their 12 games. Illinois currently ranks first in scoring defense allowing opponents to score just 8.4 points per game. Walters is only 36 years old which would make him one of the youngest coaches at the FBS level.
Jeff Grimes (Baylor Offensive Coordinator) – Jeff Grimes took over as the Baylor offensive coordinator before the start of the 2021 season. Grimes was the assistant head coach at Colorado from 2007 to 2008. Baylor’s scoring offense ranked 101st the season prior to Grimes being hired. He immediately improved the offense to 40th in his first season. Grimes previously worked at BYU and helped Zach Wilson develop into a first round pick. BYU’s offense averaged 43.5 points per game in his last season with the Cougars. Grimes will have the opportunity to be a head coach in the near future. Will Colorado have interest or will Grimes look to go a different route?
Marcus Arroyo (UNLV Head Coach) – Marcus Arroyo is unlikely to get a call even if UNLV continues to have a strong season. Arroyo went 2-16 in his first two seasons but currently has UNLV at 4-1. He has the Rebels pace to have their best season since 2013 when they appeared in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Arroyo appears to have UNLV on the right track after struggling in his first two seasons. UNLV is historically one of the worst programs in the country. Arroyo will have future opportunities to move to larger jobs if he continues to find success in Las Vegas. Programs will be looking for more consistency before they start offering him opportunities.
Brent Brennan (San Jose State Head Coach) – Brent Brennan is in his sixth season as the San Jose State head coach. He owns a career 23–38 record as a head coach but this does not tell the full story of his tenure. His first three seasons were a combined 8-29. His fourth season was a complete turnaround where San Jose State finished the season 7-1 and 24th in the AP poll. The Spartans are 15-9 since the start of the 2020 season and are 3-1 to start this season. Brennan has spent all of his time on the west coast including stops at Washington, Arizona and Oregon State. Colorado is unlikely to look at Brennan first but if he continues to have a strong season he will make a compelling case.