has seldom been worse -- as a program, in terms of revenue and in terms of relevance. The once-grand program has cratered to a level not seen since Bill McCartney arrived in the early 1980s.
This is a crucial time for the Buffaloes. Before they hire a coach to replace Karl Dorrell, who was fired Sunday after an 0-5 start to his third season, they must prove they are committed to football.
CBS Sports spoke with several sources about the job Sunday. Without being prompted, all mentioned that "commitment" consideration as part of the job's profile.
"The complications are it's a difficult, complex landscape. It's different than most people think it is," said one coach familiar with Colorado.
"I wouldn't wish that job on anybody," said another coach.
That's hard to believe at a school that has won a national championship. But currently, Colorado doesn't know the conference in which it will be playing. Its recruiting has fallen apart. Now, it is looking for its fifth coach since 2010.
You would think Colorado has to hire a head coach. The job demands it. But if there is a chance to get an up and comer, look at the third name on this list.
Bronco Mendenhall, former and coach: Mendenhall needed a reset in December when he left UVA. It was one of those Chris Peterson things where the job had just become too big. Bronco mentioned family obligations, but the buzz is that he has the bug again. This is just about the perfect fit. Mendenhall was 99-43 at BYU before an impressive 28-21 run at Virginia in his final five seasons. Mendenhall is about as real as it gets. After killing it at BYU and winning at least eight games twice at Virginia, he'd do well at a public university that is ready to spend money to be relevant again.
Troy Calhoun, coach: If you want a Rocky Mountain version of Lance Leipold, Calhoun is your man. The Falcons continue to lead FBS in rushing. Four times since 2017, Air Force has won 10 games; it defeated CU again this season by 31 points. Calhoun is a former NFL offensive coordinator. Don't worry about the triple option thing. He runs that because he's at service academy. Calhoun would run a conventional offense at Colorado.
Ryan Walters, defensive coordinator: Rick George is going to have to take a long, hard look at this rising star. Walters played safety for Gary Barnett and Dan Hawkins from 2004-06. In 2009, he was a student assistant before embarking on a career that took him to , , and Illinois. Bret Bielema thought enough of the 36-year-old Walters to go get him from Mizzou. The Illini currently have the No. 3 total defense. Because of the complexities at CU, Walters probably needs a starter job elsewhere.
Bryan Harsin, coach: We provide this as a public service announcement, but it makes total sense. Harsin is a trout out of water in the SEC. He is much more comfortable in the cool, native streams of the West. OK, enough of the analogies. Call it a bounce back after the inevitable. But that would be the problem with the hire. Harsin would come to CU on the rebound.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator: This another name that must be on the list … just because. Bieniemy is an all-time hero with the Buffaloes. His accomplishments in the NFL as a Super Bowl assistant shouldn't have to be recited. But there is the concern that no NFL team has hired him. What might kill this candidacy is obvious: Bieniemy was Jon Embree's offensive coordinator. Embree lasted two years.
Dan Mullen, ESPN analyst: Mullen is interested in getting back into the game after a year on the sideline following a collapse at . Don't know how his personality would mesh with Colorado, but the Buffaloes absolutely have to consider one of the best coaches not presently leading a team. Mullen has a career record of 103-61 with seven bowl wins. He remains a quarterback whisperer, and as we've found out time after time, if you've got a quarterback, you've got a chance.
Willie Fritz, coach: One of the most respected names in the game. Fritz showed his ability eight days ago in an upset at , then followed it up with a win at . He has coached at every level -- high school, community college, Division II, FCS, FBS. A Power Five opportunity awaits. Fritz is off to one of his best starts at 4-1 this season. One drawback: Fritz is 62.
Barry Odom, defensive coordinator: Odom is ready to put himself out there three years removed from his firing at Missouri. Arkansas went to another level defensively went Sam Pittman hired him in December 2019. Odom shaved 85 yards per game off the Hogs average from 2020-21. He also brings head coaching experience having gone 25-25 at Missouri.