There are worse coaching-change strategies: Elevate a 70-year-old former coach who has won that school's only national championship and still has the fire in his belly.
That seems to be the way it's trending at Colorado where Dan Hawkins' fifth year at the school has the adopted title of a Sean Penn movie . Bill McCartney's name is being more than floated at Colorado. Mac is practically campaigning for his former job .
"Colorado football is a sleeping giant!" McCartney told the Denver Post recently.
Mac may have it half right. The Colorado icon is interested and ready, even if it has been 17 years since we walked away from CU citing family concerns. It was Mac who survived a rocky start -- to put it mildly -- to shape Colorado into national power. The Buffs were 7-25-1 in his first three seasons which would make him shark bait in this impatient age. The administration showed faith, McCartney made Nebraska a designated rival and he began recruiting Southern California. The program then won its only national championship in 1990 (shared with Georgia Tech). I spoke to McCartney recently about the infamous Fifth Down game that made that championship possible.
Bringing Mac back would a kind of bridge hire to get the program back on track much like 71-year-old Bill Snyder at Kansas State.
"I know this, Bill McCartney is as fine a football coach as I`ve ever known," Snyder said earlier this season. "If he wanted to go back at the age of 90, he would still be extremely successful."
Colorado definitely needs some healing. The Hawkins thing just hasn't worked out. The former Boise coach is 19-38 at CU heading into this week's Kansas game. His tenure has been sort of a warning for all coaches who might think the grass is greener. In this case it certainly has been a warning to Chris Petersen who has been wildly successful since replacing Hawkins.
CU doesn't seem to be that far away. It won the Big 12 North as recently as 2005 and won division titles four of five years beginning in 2001. Those Gary Barnett days look pretty good right now. Hawkins could save his job with a bowl but it doesn't seem likely. The Buffs, 3-5, need to win three out of their last four to get bowl eligible. If not, AD Mike Bohn needs to hit a home run for one, big obvious reason: He hired Hawkins. The Buffs are moving to the Pac-12, a new chapter in their history, and can't afford to keep languishing. Bohn might be put off by McCartney's time away from the game, but with Snyder coming back and Joe Paterno going after his 400th win experience has to count for something.
Would McCartney embrace modern notions like the spread offense? Does he have the energy to recruit? Those are questions yet to be answered. There has been speculation about the makeup of the staff. Former CU and Broncos player Dave Logan has been mentioned as an assistant. Logan is currently a high school coach in the Denver area. Other names heard as possible McCartney staff members: former CU player and assistant Jon Embree (Redskins tight ends coach) and the Buffs' career rushing leader Eric Bieniemy (Vikings running backs coach).
* The most likely way the BCS standings come into play in the Big Ten tiebreaker is if Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michigan State all tie at 7-1. The Badgers currently lead in the BCS standings at No. 9. There is still the possibility of a four-way tie that would include Illinois, with each team at 6-2.
Ohio State is tied for the top spot in the Big Ten with a team it does not play, Michigan State (each are 4-1). Wisconsin is at 3-1 having beaten Ohio State and Iowa and losing to Michigan State. Either Iowa, also 3-1, or Ohio State probably will be eliminated from the race when they meet Nov. 20 in Iowa City.
The Buckeyes are gunning for a conference record-tying sixth consecutive Big Ten title. Ohio State has the toughest road to the Big Ten title if you consider combined conference records of remaining opponents (6-6). Wisconsin has the easiest road (5-11). Michigan State hasn't won the league since 1990. For Wisconsin, it has been since 1999. Iowa hasn't won it since 2004.
Even if the Large Eleven is out of the national championship picture, the league has played in the most BCS bowl games (21) and will probably get two teams in again this season.
* Phil Fulmer is the latest name to surface at Minnesota, mostly because Fulmer himself all but expressed interest at Minnesota recently.
“Minnesota has great potential, and with its new facilities it’s a place you could recruit to,’’ Fulmer told the Knoxville News Sentinel . “I believe it’s a place where you can compete.’’
Other names mentioned for the job include Mike Leach, former Boston College coach Jeff Jagodzinski, former Kansas coach Mark Mangino, Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Canadian Football League coach Marc Trestman.
It looks like a slow offseason for coaching changes. Colorado may be the biggest job that opens up assuming that Georgia doesn't do anything with Mark Richt.