Colorado coaching search: Bret Bielema emerges as candidate to replace Mel Tucker, per report

The offseason coaching carousel started unexpectedly spinning again this month when Mel Tucker took the Michigan State job after one season at Colorado. Now, a familiar college football face has emerged to potentially take his place in Boulder. NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport reported Monday that former Arkansas and Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema is interviewing for the job with the Buffaloes. 

Bielema, who is 97-58 in 12 seasons as a head coach, has been out of the college ranks since he was let go by Arkansas following the 2017 season. He spent the 2018 season as a consultant for the New England Patriots and moved on the field to coach the defensive line in 2019 on Bill Belichick’s staff. He was recently named the outside linebackers coach for the New York Giants. 

Bielema enjoyed plenty of success as the head coach at Wisconsin from 2006-12. He posted a 68-24 overall record, went 37-19 in Big Ten play, had four 10-win seasons, won three straight conference championships (2010-12) and went to three straight Rose Bowls. His tenure at Arkansas from 2013-17 did not go according to plan, however. He finished 29-34 overall, 11-29 in conference play and placed last in the SEC West three times. 

Colorado is coming off a 5-7 season that saw the defense give up 6.51 yards per play — 10th in the Pac-12. Bielema’s final three defenses at Arkansas finished last in the SEC in that category, even though it did make bowl games in 2015 and 2016. He is largely considered an old-school, smash-mouth coach, but his passing offenses finished third in the SEC in passing in those same two seasons.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado star running back Eric Bieneimy has reportedly been contacted by the school as well. He was the play-caller and architect of the Chiefs offense led by quarterback Pat Mahomes that won Super Bowl LIV earlier this month.

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