Lance Carl then … A member of Bill McCartney’s first recruiting Class (1983), Carl was a 12-letter winner (football, baseball, track and basketball) out of Fort Madison, Iowa. Carl, a wide receiver who led the Buffs in receiving in 1986, was a member of the team when the Buffs ended a six year run of losing seasons in 1985 – McCartney’s fourth year as head coach. Carl was on the receiving end of one of the most memorable touchdowns in Colorado football history, a 52-yard halfback pass from O.C. Oliver on the first play of the fourth quarter of CU’s epic 20-10 upset of No. 3 Nebraska in 1986.

Lance Carl now … Carl signed as a free agent with the Washington Redskins, and also had a four year run as a scout for the Philadelphia Eagles. More recently, Carl spent six years with the Colorado Department of Higher Education, where he was a director for student motivational outreach. In November of 2013, Carl was named to a newly created position, associate athletic director for business development. The largely external role which encompasses business development, community partnerships, Carl serves as the coordinator for non-game day events (such as the Dead & Company playing at Folsom Field last July, and returning this June). Carl, with an office down the hall from athletic director Rick George, is also the sports supervisor for the football program. He has daily interactions with head coach Mike MacIntyre, the assistant coaches, support personnel and the student-athletes.

Note … For regulars here at CU at the Game, you may recall that Mr. Carl was gracious enough to do a similar interview last spring. If you would like to look back at that interview – and see how prescient Mr. Carl was about the 2016 season (“No More Excuses” was one heading of one segment; “We’re the Real Deal” was another) – you can read it again here.

Still to come … A look at the Offense (to be posted this Sunday, March 19th) … and the Defense (Friday, March 24th) …


Part One … Coaches:


On CU’s new coaches: Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach, D.J. Eliot; secondary coach ShaDon Brown; and inside linebackers coach Ross Els

“D.J. is a cerebral guy, dry wit, good humor. I think he’s going to fit right in with the staff. One thing Mike (MacIntyre) was looking for was a connection with somebody. Not that he didn’t have a connection with Jim (Leavitt), but he and Jim were a little bit out of the same mold.

D.J. is going to able to work with Mike … While this is not his defense, it is his defense. It’s going to be our terminology from the past two years. It was very important for Mike to find someone who would be comfortable using our terminology, and not changing everything over, because we have a lot of young kids, a lot of new players. We want to keep the same terminology, so we can keep the same momentum going with the defense.

Shadon Brown – very knowledgeable, very passionate, a very hands-on guy. He’s very real with the players. Just watching him in spring ball, he already has those guys trust, and can identify some leaders on his side of the ball. So, we’re very excited about him.

Ross Els – he’s still brand new to the staff, so we still don’t know about him. I have some friends who have coached with Ross along some of his stops, and they spoke highly of his character. He’s a very, very good instructional coach. He pays attention to details … so, we’re excited.

On Els calling Lincoln, Nebraska, “the best place in America to raise a family”

He lost a bet, he told me, and had to stay in Lincoln. His son was a high school senior, and he wasn’t going to leave his son. He has a daughter who is playing volleyball at Northern Colorado, so his wife was happy to get out of Lincoln. They have passionate fans there, but at the end of the day, Lincoln is Lincoln and Boulder is Boulder, and his wife was on the first bus or train out of there.

On the co-offensive coordinators, Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren, working together

One guy is loud and obnoxious; one guy is quiet and cerebral. And you know who is who. But they both have a great ability to connect with the offense. It’s amazing to watch them work, see the dynamics of how they work. And they had it from the very first day they met, when Chiv came in for his interview. That dynamic was there.

The first week of practices went well. The staff is jelling on that side of the ball. On offense, we’re way ahead of where we were last spring.

Will Mike MacIntyre act as a “co-defensive coordinator” with D.J. Eliot?

I don’t think so. I think Mac is trusting D.J., and D.J. is on top of the scheme right now. The scheme he had (Kentucky) is not all that much different. It’s the play-calling. The great thing about spring ball is that D.J. can look around and say, ‘What parts do I have? How do I assemble those parts, those pieces? Who can I plug into spots to make this the best defense it can be? The nice thing is that he has a defensive head coach.  Mac will be always be available saying, ‘I’m here if you need me. Here’s what I would suggest’.

On the impact of strength and conditioning coach Drew Wilson

He is recognized within the Champions Center as being the man. He has an uncanny ability to get respect from the kids, while driving them to become better. That’s what every kid at the Pac-12 level is looking for. They want you to drive them. They want you to make them a better person; a better player. But you also have to show that you relate to them, and show that you care about them individually, and that’s what he’s done.

You see a guy like Lee Walker, whose body is changing. Shay Fields, whose body is changing. Those guys, they didn’t have ‘buy-in’ with the other strength staff. Now, they have the full buy-in. Once they have the buy-in, and they see the results of the work they put in, it allows them to elevate their game.

A prime example of that is Steven Montez. Steven Montez went to Drew Wilson and said, ‘I need to become a better athlete. I’m a good athlete now, but I’m also a little pudgy. I’m not optimizing my talent. Here, I turn myself over to you’. And he did. He did everything Drew said, and he lost 20 pounds, and now he’s on Instragram posting pictures of his six-pack.

Frank Umu. He was all of 270 last year. He got to travel to all the away games, but he knew he wasn’t going to play, he knew he was going to redshirt. He went to Drew and said, ‘Look, what do I need to do to be a player here?’, and Drew said, ‘You need to work harder in the weight room. You need to trust that what I am telling you is going to benefit you in the long term’. Umu said, ‘Okay, I trust you. Let’s do this’. Now he’s 310. That’s what happens when you have the right person leading – that combination of passion, purpose, and respect.

Drew says all the time, ‘We’re going to push and pull weight’, and that’s what we do. That’s what you do in football, you push and you pull. We’re going to do some Olympic lifting around here. The guys are going to push and pull weight, and if they buy in, they will grow faster, stronger and tougher.

I’ve been around a lot of strength coaches, and it comes down to who can move the weight. You can do yoga, and you can do other drills, but whose going to move the weight? Whose under the bar in the weight room? Whose doing the squats in the weight room? Those are the little things that help you win games. That’s what we’ve become, that’s who we are.

On the 2017 Schedule

You always start with CSU, and that’s always competitive. The next two games … you don’t take anyone for granted, and you want to play them competitively, and you want to finish those two games (against Texas State and Northern Colorado), and then you get Washington.

You look forward to that, the Buffs do, you know Washington does, too. You look forward to that rematch. It will be a barometer of where your team is, and where you will be in the Pac-12, because you are facing the Pac-12 champion right away.

It’s huge that we get Washington at home. That game will go a long ways towards telling you who we are. We’ll know right away. But it will interesting to see how good Washington really is. They’ve lost quite a bit.

On the players “buying-in” to the coaching staff and philosophy

When the team buys in, it changes everything, and that’s what happened last year – the seniors bought in. And now, Phil Lindsay, Jeromy Irwin, George Frazier, all those guys, they are carrying it forward. They took what we had last year, are now showing the younger guys the culture that we have here, and the expectations that we have here. When you walk in the doors of that weight room, we’re about work. It’s all about business. Young guys, coming in here from high school, they are kind of in awe, and they realize that, ‘That Phillip Lindsay is doing that. He’s 5’8″, 185-190, and I’m 6’2″, 225, why can’t I do the same things he is doing? What do I have to do to get there?’. We have great leadership on this team. The culture is great.

On the players choosing the captains last season (Note … Max Preps ran a story with details of how CU chose its captains last year. In a speech at the AFCA convention, Mike MacIntyre detailed how he let the players define the role of captain, then sort out for themselves which players met those criteria. The full story – which is worth your time, if you haven’t read it – can be found here). 

What’s great about Mike is that Mike trusts the leaders on the team to rise to the top. He knows that our guys are thick-skinned enough to call each other out in a meeting like that. To look each other in the eye and say, ‘No, you’re not a leader’. That’s hard. Think about that. A lot of teams coaching staffs say, ‘Well, who are our leaders?’, and just pick four or five guys, and that’s not always the best thing. Our team – they chose these guys … Three of those five guys (from last year) who were voted in – George, Jeromy and Phil – are all back from last year.

We’re excited. I love that our alums are excited. Everyone’s been suffering from withdrawal, like, ‘When do two-a-days start?’. In the past it was like, ‘Man, I hope we can win five games’. I like that expectations have been raised. We had a ten year malaise here. Now, we’ve raised the bar, and come out of the darkness. Let’s see what we can become. Let’s see if we can become Pac-12 champs, that’s the thing now. We’ve won the Pac-12 South, now can we become champions of the Pac-12? I’m excited about where we are as a program, staff-wise, culture-wise.


Note … For CU fans of a certain age, the name Lance Carl is synonymous with one of the biggest plays in one of the biggest games in Colorado football history.

The setting: October 25, 1986. A 2-4 Buff team, which hadn’t beaten Nebraska since 1967, took on an undefeated and third-ranked Cornhusker team at Folsom Field. The 20-10 victory (full story here) remains, to this day, my favorite CU memory.

As the fourth quarter opened, CU clung to a 10-7 lead over the mighty Huskers. Then, there came the following play (let the emotion in the voice of KOA’s Larry Zimmer be your guide as to how much the play meant):



5 Replies to “Q & A With Lance Carl – Part I”

  1. Excellent Speaker as well. The man is a giver not a taker.

    Now ep don’t get spun up all about the play calling…………..on either side of the ball. What does it matter? All about the players don’t ya know. The Jimmy and the Joes………….

    Ah heck

    Free Mac2
    Free RG

  2. Ive met up with Lance a few times, and even had a tour of the Champions Center with him. Class guy all around, a true Buff and exceptional man.

  3. Great read. It inspires confidence
    with the exception of one short sentence…”Its the play calling.”
    Crossing my fingers that there is no drop off on the D side and a yuuuuge
    improvement on the O side,

    1. Anybody who didn’t have a little “hold-your-breathe” mentality when watching JL’s play-calling, was lying to themselves. JL took the “D” as far as he could. Great energy, tons of experience, but a bit short in the intuitional and intellectual aspects of play-calling; UM game was a perfect example: couldn’t stop Butt and left the edges open almost the whole game. Same for U$C game. Let a RS Fr QB just go wild.

      Lance is great. Unusually frank, his reports are just what Buff fans look forward to. Love his confirmation of D. Wilson’s talent and outlook at S&C. Olympic lifting is the best way to go! Looking forward to the progress of many players who have now had two years under Wilson’s tutelage.

      (Oh yeah, REAL Buff fans—sorry VK—know who the hero was in the ’67 win over UN in Lincoln…..without looking at Plati’s history!)

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