Colorado will "part ways" with head coach Mike MacIntyre after the season, reported KMGH-TV, Denver's ABC affiliate, on Monday. On Tuesday, Buffaloes' athletics director Rick George refused to comment "on speculation or unsubstantiated rumors with anonymous sources" and said he's "made no decisions regarding the future of the football program."
If the report is accurate and MacIntyre is fired, who might Colorado target as his replacement? Speculations have included names like Matt Wells, Eric Bienemy, Les Miles and Jim Leavitt. But what if CU doesn't hire a well-circulated name?
I started an under-the-radar candidates list and noticed nearly every coach had strong FCS ties. Consequently, I scrapped the list and included only current FCS coaches or one who built some or most of their coaching stock at FCS programs.
Current Position: Head Coach – North Dakota State
Chris Klieman and James Madison's Mike Houston are the big FCS fish, as HERO Sports FCS writer Brian McLaughlin discussed on The Hot Route last week.
Our colleague, Sam Herder, has speculated that Klieman, with his strong midwestern ties and recruiting relationships, could be a candidate for a job like Iowa State or Kansas State if one or both were to open. If Herder is right but those jobs don't open and Klieman is interested in making a jump anyway, could he consider Colorado?
It'd be a home-run hire for a program that needs a calculated approach to recruiting and player development.
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator – Cal
Beau Baldwin is a west coast guy. A California native who played at Central Washington and spent the first 23 seasons of coaching career at CWU and Eastern Washington, Baldwin jumped to Cal in 2017 after winning 85 games and one national championship in nine seasons at EWU.
Cal's offense hasn't been impressive under Baldwin's tutelage but he's still helped the Golden Bears move forward under Justin Wilcox.
Baldwin, 46, could get a low-level FBS head-coaching job right now, but might be another year or two away from a Power Five job. Might Colorado jump early for a discounted rate?
Current Position: Head Coach – Weber State
Also on that episode of The Hot Route, McLaughlin talked about Jay Hill, Weber State's 43-year-old fourth-year head coach.
A Utah native who played for the Utes and spent the first 13 years of his coaching career with the program, Hill took the Weber State job in 2014. He's increased their win total in each of his four seasons and, at 8-2 entering the regular-season finale, could do it again in 2018.
There's a lot to love about Hill: Power Five experience, coached on both sides of the ball (along with special teams), recruited the region well and has good relationships with JUCO programs.
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator – Utah
Troy Taylor was a Colorado assistant in 1995 — his first college coaching job — and spent five years at Cal, his alma mater, before coaching California high school football for 15 years. He returned to college in 2016 as Beau Baldwin's co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Eastern Washington and took the Utah job last year.
Taylor, 50, has spoken glowingly of the Utah program and — in my opinion — feels like the guy who could stay in one coordinator job for decades. However, he was curious enough to make jumps in 2016 and 2017, so might he consider another one if Colorado calls?
LISTEN: Taylor on The Hot Route