Common link between Colorado football and new Buffs DC was Mike Zimmer

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The common link between the Colorado football program and first-year defensive coordinator Robert Livingston was someone rumored for the job but who Coach Prime passed on during two different offseason hiring cycles: Mike Zimmer.

"Livingston is undoubtedly a good, young, up-and-coming coach but the common link may be a man who was widely thought to be in consideration for the job; former Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer," wrote DNVR Sports' Jake Schwanitz. "Zimmer was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator when Livingston was hired in 2012 and Zimmer’s departure to Minnesota coincides with Livingston’s promotion to the Bengals coaching staff."

As Schwanitz revealed, Coach Prime's defensive coordinator search ended up being aversely affected by the NFL's own coaching carousel this offseason.

"Colorado’s search for a defensive coordinator this offseason was thorough and involved multiple coaches from the NFL and college ranks," Schwanitz wrote. "The names surrounding CU’s defensive coordinator were kept under lock and key allowing Coach Prime to execute his search in secrecy. At one point, Colorado had a big NFL name lined up for defensive coordinator. Once the search came to an end, DNVR was told that because of how the NFL coaching carousel worked out this off-season and the decision by one NFL team to not change head coaches, Colorado zeroed in on Livingston."

Colorado football had eyes on Mike Zimmer and Jim Leonhard before landing on Robert Livingston

As the Blue Bloods Bias X account reported, Zimmer and former Wisconsin interim head coach Jim Leonhard were the top two candidates many were expecting to land the Buffs' defensive coordinator job the day before Livingston was hired.

"If the announcement is the DC, there is speculation that it will be an NFL guy such as Mike Zimmer, or a stud College DC like Jim Leonhard," Blue Bloods Bias prefaced before saying, "With the former NFL Players & Coaches that Coach Prime is bringing to Boulder, this would become the most prolific Staff in the entire Big-12."

Zimmer had been rumored before the 2023 season to join Coach Prime's Colorado staff after serving on his Jackson State support staff in 2022, but the two missed the boat again with Zimmer landing the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator job. Leonhard, meanwhile, was hired by the Denver Broncos to serve as their defensive backs coach/pass game coordinator.