One of the most talked-about columns to emerge in the college football media this past week has been this one by the Denver Post 's John Henderson, which not only confidently claims that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins won't survive into the 2011 season but offers an early shortlist for his replacement. The four names allegedly being considered by Buffs brass: Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain , retired former Colorado head coach Bill McCartney , LSU head coach Les Miles , and Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn .
Of those four, Miles is widely seen as unattainable; McCartney (who has been out of coaching for the past 16 seasons) is seen as old and potentially out-of-touch; and McElwain is seen, as, well, the less-exciting of the two Alabama-based coordinators. Which has focused most of the speculation in response to Henderson's column on Malzahn, whose go-go offense has transformed Auburn from one of the SEC 's worst attacks to one of the nation's best in two short seasons (not to mention turning Cam Newton into the Hesiman front-runner). His approach would seem to be a good fit both for the Buffs' move to the high-scoring Pac-12 and for a Colorado fanbase that could use some excitement after the stultifying Hawkins tenure.
But Malzahn, like his quarterback , has already taken enough turns on the coaching speculation carousel to know not to give anything away this early :
"To be honest, I’m in my own little world," he said. "My entire focus is on this team and making it the best it can be. I’m extremely happy. I’ve said that time and time again. I love coach (Gene ) Chizik and I love coaching these kids. And my only focus is trying to win games and trying to win a championship."This is standard boilerplate for a coach who's a candidate for another job in midseason, but of course that boilerplate is something other than "I'll be at Auburn next year" or "I'm not going to Colorado."
"Somewhere down the line I’d like to [become a head coach]," he said. "I’m in no hurry. I feel like a lot of people think I am. But like I’ve said before, we’ve got a good thing going here and I’d like to see it through.”
So the door for a move to Boulder still is, in the most technical sense of the metaphor, still open. But at this premilinary stage, reading anything into Malzahn's comments other than that he doesn't want to comment is reading too much into them.