Mike Bobo is out as Colorado State head coach after five seasons.
"Colorado State University and head football coach Mike Bobo have mutually agreed to a separation arrangement that will allow the program to seek a new leader for the Rams' football program," said a Colorado State news release on Wednesday.
That agreement included a buyout settlement of $1.8 million and launched Colorado State into their third head-coaching search in the last eight years. It will be the first football hire for fifth-year athletics director Joe Parker, who arrived in Fort Collins months after Bobo was hired.
Who might Parker target for one of the best Group of Five jobs in the country?
Tony Alford's name was thrust to the top of prospective candidates lists immediately after the Bobo news broke. Alford, currently Ohio State running backs coach and a former longtime Notre Dame assistant and recruiting coordinator, was born in Ohio but played high school football in Colorado Springs and college football at Colorado State. He's never coached in, or anywhere near, the state of Colorado during his 26-year career but interviewed for the Rams' job after Jim McElwain's departure in December 2014.
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Several current and former FBS coaches could be on a shortlist, including Mark Helfrich, Todd Graham, Billy Napier, and Will Healy. Graham, a potential candidate for other jobs west of the Mississippi, including UNLV, UTSA, and New Mexico, turned down jobs last year and said he wants another job this year. Napier's résumé is attractive for a 40-year-old first-time head coach. He's led Louisiana to two division titles in his two seasons, has worked under Graham, Nick Saban, and Dabo Swinney, and, for what it's worth, spent one season on McElwain's Colorado State staff.
One FCS head coach to watch: Troy Taylor. The former Cal quarterback coached at Cal and Colorado for five seasons before a 15-year run in California high school football. He went back to college in 2016 as the Eastern Washington quarterbacks coach and, following two years as Utah offensive coordinator, has done incredible work in his first season as Sacramento State head coach, leading the Hornets to a 9-3 record entering the second round of the playoffs.
Another former Todd Graham assistant, current Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long could be an intriguing option. Only 36 years old, Long has five Power Five stops (and Memphis) on his résumé and spent four years as Arizona State recruiting coordinator. Other Power Five coordinators to consider: Beau Baldwin, David Yost, Graham Harrell, Ricky Rahne, or Alex Grinch.
And one wild card: Eric Bienemy. If the former Colorado star (and Buffaloes' and UCLA assistant) is desperate for a head-coaching shot and can't find on in the NFL, might he consider a return to college?