Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

There is a new "Coach Mac" in Colorado and he isn't leading the Buffaloes.

Colorado State officially named Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain its new head coach on Tuesday paying him an annual salary of $1.3 million with incentives related to his players' academic performance that could boost it up to $1.5 million.

My first thought after reading those salary figures Tuesday afternoon were about Colorado coach Jon Embree. I figured he had to be somewhere out on the recruiting trail smiling.

You have to think Embree is going to be in line for a significant raise at some point in the next few years provided his team shows improvement and becomes more competitive.

With no previous head coaching or coordinator experience, Embree came to Colorado a year ago this month to lead his alma mater at a reduced price. Embree's contract, which includes plenty of incentives for on-field success, paid him roughly $725,000 in his first year in guaranteed compensation. He could make closer to $1 million if his bosses determine he has met enough of the goals tied to those incentives.

Embree, who is now the lowest paid coach in the Pac-12 Conference, accepted the salary for several reasons. The most important was that doing so allowed the school to expand the salary pool for his assistant coaches by $857,109 compared with what former coach Dan Hawkins' nine assistant coaches were making in 2010.

Embree has never given the impression that he's in this business for the money and it's hard to imagine him making a big deal about making $600,000 less than his counterpart up the road in Fort Collins. But it stands to reason that a couple of successful seasons in Boulder could lead a big boost in his compensation.

The cost of doing business in college athletics is constantly rising, but it seems unbelievable that CSU spent $250,000 hiring a consultant to help it with its search for a new coach. The average college football fan easily could have compiled a list of the top coordinators at major programs and the best head coaches at mid-major programs and handed it over the CSU officials.

But schools aren't actually paying for help identifying the right candidates. They pay those huge sums for the background checks on the top candidates they identify themselves and also as cover against the possibility that someone might claim they didn't conduct a thorough search.

But $250,000 still seems excessive.

Hawkins reunion?

I've heard through the coaching carousel that former Hawkins has expressed interest in the Fresno State job. No word on whether Fresno State officials have interest in Hawkins.

If Hawkins was hired to lead the Bulldogs, it would make for some fun story lines in September the next two seasons. The Buffs travel to play at Fresno State in the third game next season and Fresno State returns to Boulder in 2013.

Hawkins was fired by CU in November 2010 toward the end of his fifth consecutive losing season in Boulder. Prior to coaching the Buffs, he helped build Boise State into the top-10 juggernaut it is today. During his five seasons at Boise State, he went 4-1 against Fresno State in the Western Athletic Conference.

Fresno State is scheduled to become a member of the Mountain West Conference next season, which would mean regular trips back to this state for Hawkins.