New CU quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper – Thumbs up or Thumbs down?

Kurt Roper was introduced this week as the new quarterbacks coach at Colorado. Though only 45 years old, Roper already has 22 years of coaching experience under his belt, including eight seasons as an offensive coordinator. Roper has a history with CU head coach Mike MacIntyre, coaching along side MacIntyre at both Ole Miss and Duke.

“Kurt brings a tremendous amount of quarterback coaching experience and has tutored some of the great ones like Eli Manning at Ole Miss and Thaddeus Lewis at Duke,” MacIntyre said. “He has great offensive knowledge and we are extremely excited to have a coach of his caliber on our staff to work with our quarterbacks.”

As you would expect, Roper had nothing but good things to say about his new employer.

“My family and I are excited about coming to the University of Colorado,” said Roper. “We are excited about the opportunity to compete for championships with the Buffaloes. Getting back with coach MacIntyre is obviously really appealing, we have a great relationship, have spent a lot of time together and I know how talented and how hard he works at putting together great teams. I am really looking forward to being a part of this group.”

It’s always sunshine and roses at the beginning of a relationship, but how will Roper work out at Colorado?

The resume

Glass half-full, or glass half-empty?

Roper previously served as an offensive coordinator for two SEC programs and another in the ACC. He most recently was the co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at South Carolina for the past two seasons and earlier in his career had worked with MacIntyre for six years when the two were coaching together at Mississippi (1999-02) and Duke (2008-09).

Roper’s coaching history:

2016-17 – South Carolina – Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2015 – Cleveland Browns – Senior Offensive assistant
2014 – Florida – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2008-13 – Duke – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
2006-07 – Tennessee – Running Backs
2005 – Kentucky – Quarterbacks
1999-2004 – Ole Miss – Quarterbacks
1996-98 – Tennessee – Graduate Assistant

How has Roper fared in these jobs?

You will hear a great deal this off-season about how Roper tutored All-America signal-caller Eli Manning, the 2003 SEC Player of the Year and No. 1 overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, during his six-years as the quarterbacks coach at Ole Miss (1999-04).

Another one of his quarterbacks, Thaddeus Lewis at Duke, spent six years in the NFL after a record-breaking career in Roper’s offense at Duke where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2008-13.

But … the offenses Roper coached were rarely in the top half of their respective conferences.

This past season, South Carolina was 108th in total offense; 99th in scoring offense, 12th in the SEC in both categories. Those numbers, while less than appealing, were a slight improvement from 2016, when the Gamecocks finished last in the SEC in total offense, and 13th in scoring.

The lack of offensive production (though South Carolina did post an 8-4 record) led to the firing of Roper by South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp.

“After much deliberation, I have decided to go in a different direction with the offensive coordinator position on our football team,” Muschamp announced in a statement on December 5th. “We appreciate Kurt’s contributions to our program and to the University and wish him all the best.”

The timing of the announcement was odd, as South Carolina still had a bowl game to prepare for when Roper was let go. According to an ESPN story, though, Roper was among the top candidates for the head-coaching vacancy at Rice, his alma mater. That flirtation may have led to Roper’s before-the-end-of-season exit.

So, excited that CU is getting a position coach who had a coaching resume which almost got him a head coaching position at an FBS program?

Or concerned over the lack of productive numbers from his offenses the past few seasons?

Depends on your perspective …

Recruiting

The lifeblood of a college football program is recruiting.

If the assistant coaches are able recruiters, the team has a chance at success. If the coaches can’t recruit, they will ultimately be looking for employment elsewhere.

What does Kurt Roper bring to the table?

According to his recruiting resume at 247Sports, Roper has brought in five four-star quarterback recruits in his years as an assistant coach. Included on the list is Dakereon Joyner, the 10th-ranked dual threat quarterback in the nation, who signed on with South Carolina in December.

A clear detriment to Roper coming to Colorado is his lack of connections in the western half of the United States. Roper has coached exclusively east of the Mississippi in his career, and, while being a veteran of take-no-prisoners recruiting world of the SEC, Roper will have to start over in Boulder.

For his part, Roper sees his stint at Duke, where recruiting opportunities were limited due to Duke’s high admission standards, as a great learning opportunity. “I think working at Duke has helped me for any job going forward,” Roper said. “What it taught me is there’s enough good football players out there that are good students that you don’t have to sacrifice or compromise any of your values in recruiting. I think that’s what Duke taught me. I think you go out here and find good players that work hard that are good students and you go try to win games.”

The situation

It’s unusual for a team to have a coach designated just for the quarterback position.

In 2017, there was only one coach in the Pac-12, Stanford’s Tavita Pritchard, whose sole title was that of quarterbacks coach. Across most of the conference (including Colorado), the quarterbacks coach also was the offensive coordinator, while at a few schools the head coach took care of the quarterbacks.

In 2018, Colorado will have co-offensive coordinators, with Darrin Chiaverini (who also coaches the wide receivers) and Klayton Adams (who also coaches the offensive line). Between the pair, there is one year (Chiaverini last season) of offensive coordinator experience.

Enter Kurt Roper, a position coach who has eight years as an offensive coordinator experience under his belt, who will be subordinate to Chiaverini and Adams.

How is that going to work?

Several proverbs come to mind, like “too many cooks spoil the broth” and “too many chiefs, not enough Indians”.

A few days into the relationship, it’s all sweetness and light …

“I’m looking forward to working with (co-coordinators) Klayton (Adams) and Darrin (Chiaverini),” Roper said. “They’re going to set the philosophy and I’m going to coach the quarterbacks to my best ability to that philosophy. I’m looking forward to sitting down with them and talking football and learning the system and then passing it on to the players.”

“I can tell right away we’ll mesh well together,” Chiaverini told the Daily Camera. “I told (head coach Mike MacIntyre) that during the interview process. I really like his personality. I think it meshes well with our room. You can tell he’s a good guy and I’m excited about that. In this business you work a lot of long days, a lot of long hours and you want to be around good people and you can tell he’s a good guy.”

Through into that mix the fact that Roper and head coach Mike MacIntyre have a long history together, with both being on David Cutliffe staffs at both Ole Miss and Duke.

“Anytime you can work with somebody that you know and have a close relationship with, that’s a beneficial situation,” Roper said. “I really believe Mike is one of the best football coaches I’ve ever been around. He’s intense, he’s intelligent, he works at it, and because of that it gives you a chance to win football games. Any football coach wants to win. That’s the number one goal. I’m coming into a situation that I have some familiarity with, with Mike, and obviously a chance to win championships — and that’s what you want.”

So, when there is a conflict in philosophy, or the use of a certain player, or the preparation of a game plan … who wins out?

The two newly appointed co-offensive coordinators … or the head coach and his longtime friend, who is supposed to just be the position coach in the room?

Will it lead to an enhanced offense … or a debacle?

“I think it’s great,” Chiaverini said. “I can bounce ideas off of him. He’s seen good days and bad days as a play-caller, so he knows what things work, what things might not work.

“The more input you can have during the week and formulate the plan (the better) and then Saturday you have to go out and execute it and I’ve got to be the one that calls it and do a good job doing that.”

Cross your fingers …

Bottom Line

Buff fans are still lamenting the loss of defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, who left for greener pastures in Oregon.

What Buff fans tend to forget is that Colorado was lucky to get Leavitt in the first place.

Recall that Leavitt was on the outs in college football, having been fired by South Florida after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.

Leavitt was languishing as a position coach for the San Francisco 49ers when a marriage of convenience came to pass – CU needed a defensive coordinator; Leavitt needed a place to restore his reputation.

When Leavitt got back into the good graces of the college football world by helping to turn around the CU defense, he left for the next opportunity (and he will leave Oregon as well, when given the chance (Jim Leavitt tweet during the Willie Taggart to Florida State saga: “Always been honest. Never have I mislead. Have great passion for the Ducks! Want to be a HC someday again Lord willing“).

The Leavitt lesson is that Colorado has to take some chances when it comes to coaching hires. There is not a parade of well-known assistant coaches with unblemished resumes beating down the doors of the Champions Center.

The reality is that, if Roper is successful, and raises Steven Montez (or Tyler Lytle … or Sam Noyer … or Blake Stenstrom) to All-Pac-12 status, he will likely be offered another chance at being offensive coordinator (or even head coach) elsewhere.

In the meantime, Buff fans can only hope that this latest marriage of convenience – with Kurt Roper taking a demotion to position coach – works out for the team in general and the quarterbacks in particular.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with what Kurt Roper said during his first week on the job:

“You have to help quarterbacks be mentally tough and the way you help them be mentally tough is you teach them how to make decisions and then you back them up when they make those decisions,” Roper said. “You have to help them grow as a quarterback and a leader. What I tell quarterbacks all the time is that when you choose to play this position, you haven’t chosen a position — you’ve chosen a lifestyle. You have to live the right way.”

Sounds great .. we’ll see how it plays out on the practice fields and meeting rooms.

I’ll leave you with this last bit of positive karma for Kurt Roper.

If you are old enough, you may remember a sit-com called “Three’s Company“. John Ritter starred in what would now be a politically incorrect set up of a young man pretending to be gay so that he could live with two other women in the same apartment.

Colorado had two co-offensive coordinators. With the addition of Kurt Roper, the Buffs now realistically have three.

Two’s company, three’s a crowd? CU fans certainly hope that’s not the case.

Oh, and the karma reference between Kurt Roper and “Three’s Company“?

The threesomes landlords in the sit-com?

The Ropers …

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17 Replies to “Kurt Roper – Thumbs Up?”

  1. I think it’s good to have someone on the offensive staff who has called plays before. Even if Roper is not going to call the plays at CU, someone with that experience will be valuable.

    I think it’s really hard to evaluate assistant coaches by looking at the win loss records of the schools where they were at. We need this guy to recruit and develop QBs. Other than QBs just getting more game experience (i.e., years ticking by) and getting in better shape, there doesn’t seem like there has been a lot of QB development going on at CU. Hopefully Roper comes with some techniques that can help the Buff QBs read defenses and make good decisions. It would be nice to see signs of that in the spring and maybe we can judge this hire then.

    1. You are right about the lack of QB development. Both Sefo and Montez had or have the physical tools and heart to be superior QBs…and to be sure they have excelled at times but the consistency wasnt there. The guy who coached them and had everyone scratching their heads over bonehead play selection during crunch time and in the red zone, which ostensibly held these QBs back at times is gone.

      You are right about the very real possibility that Roper “comes with some techniques that can help the Buff QBs read defenses and make good decisions.”

      The fear among many fans, myself included, is that Roper comes here as a failed OC together with being an old friend of Mac’s who will have Mac’s ear when it comes to game plans and play calling when it might impede a possible new direction in those areas we are all expecting from Chev who comes from a wide open offense background.

      Montez has an incredible potential upside. We have a blessing of talent at WR. I Roper can keep to his job description and Chev can design a diverse passing offense and keep the opposing D’s heads spinning, I see a much better and exciting season next year for the Buffs


  2. I was feeling good about the risk being taken with the new Co-Oc’s. Young,not scared, risk takers, not bent in the ways of the MickeyMac world. Wow pretty exciting. Perhaps risky, but no more risky than keeping the OJT OC on the job for another year. This step was so unlike MickeyMac and it was a pretty neat step especially for him. Get that ol offense outta here. Give it to the kids. Ramp it up. Lets GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

    And the cherry on top was to bring in a top notch qb coach to get those qb’s to the level the new OC’s needed the QB’s to be at.

    Instead the new cherry on top is a MickeyMac clone.
    I denticals……twins………siblings………..clones………..So what does it all mean……………..??? Disappointing but not disheartening. Why cause I believe Chev Adams togehter are strong enough to take charge unlike lindy was….as a weak clone sleepwalker.

    Anyway it is all on the coaches…..

    “They recruit em”
    “They develop em”
    “They Train em”
    “They design the scheme and the plays”
    “The call the plays”

    “COACHES WIN GAMES……………

    Yo Stuart…………
    Hmmmmmm

    Only 2 questions in the Rope-r-dope poll? So you taking the either “wif me or agin me” option eh? (Mathew 12:30)

    No Middling ground answer? Oh wait the “Middling has moved on” Okay that’s fair kinda. So I ain’t voting in yur ol pole (HeHe) It’s like one of those trick questions ya get when your management team wants to ensure they get the majority of answers they want the way they want them. The ones who want same same to protect themselves same same

    Hurts the oultiers. The ones who think differently.

    Laid off Lindy cause I didn’t know…….but now I do.

    The problem for me with the Ropemeister, is he is a MickeyMac clone. Carries a bit of extra negative weight IMHO.

    The team The Team…………Always about the team

    The players on the team as a team

    The coaches on the team as a team

    “Are you for us, or for our adversaries” Joshua 5:13

    Go buffs, praise the lord and pass the Football

    Note: At High Noon………….The whiner covered in sweat, walking on the floor etc and I am betting the students are all over him

    See ya there

    1. What is the middle option? Either you like the hire, or you don’t.
      Everyone who is looking at a CU website in the dead of winter in a non-bowl season is dedicated to the Buffs, and we all hope that the Roper hire works out. No one knows if it will.
      Take a position and defend it. You don’t get to criticize the hire, and then say, “But I’ve got my fingers crossed”. If CU had hired a Big Sky Conference up-and-coming coordinator as the new quarterbacks coach, you would have criticized them as having no experience in Power-Five Conference football.

      So, you with the hire … or against it? Yea or nay; yes or no. Not a difficult question … and there is no middle answer. If you don’t like the hire, you don’t the hire.
      Currently, 81% are thumbs up.

      1. Great BB game. Wish you were there. WOW

        I abstain as I am neither against it or for it. Just how it is.

        81% for it? Wow………..The flock of sheep is large.

        Buffs.

  3. Experience? yeeeehaaaw….lots of experience. so much he has been one year in his last 3 or 4 stops and just got fired from the last one.
    Reminds me of an old Cheech and Chong routine…..”is it good grass or bad grass?”
    Is it good experience or stems and seeds?
    Reminds me also of another carpet bagger…a QB who once started cause he had experience over the others…..I think his name was Webb and his experience was that of losing at Kansas.
    I hire subs once in a while in my business and I have run into more guys who have decades of experience that isnt worth 10 minutes of the time it took to get it.
    Of course I have no choice but to hope that Roper succeeds and I do but right now I am holding my nose.

    1. Exactly right on the subs comment EP. Do they have 10 years of experience, or 1 year of experience 10 times? Same with coaches, as the first one I saw that suffered from that problem was ole Dumb Dan Reeves. Could not grow beyond his first year as a head coach. Happens all the time unfortunately

      Valid question and we will soon get our answer.

  4. Excellent Stuart.

    So, when there is a conflict in philosophy, or the use of a certain player, or the preparation of a game plan … who wins out?

    The two newly appointed co-offensive coordinators … or the head coach and his longtime friend, who is supposed to just be the position coach in the room?

    MickeyMac is the boss so you have your answer.

    Gotta give it a shot though and I hope they can pull it off.

    Buffs

  5. The Ropers. That’s funny, Stu.

    And, why were Jack, Chrissy and Janet living together, in their tiny apartment, where he pretended to be gay? At least in part, because rents in LA were sooooo high in the 70s and 80s, it was they only way they could all three afford it. Pretty classic, particularly for those 20 million or so trying to live down there these days. Or heck, almost anywhere in CA, and many other places these days.

    But I digress…

    Of course, I’m optimistic Roper will prove to be a good hire. I certainly won’t pass judgment until we’ve seen him, and the rest of the staff and team, in action this year.

    I mean, I’ll say it again. VK (and in his defense, many others ’round here) have proclaimed that Lindgren was an offensive mental midget, who petered out back at Northern Arizona – or wherever – yet? Jonathan Smith – a Chris Petersen protege – thought enough of him, and his offense and coaching style, to not only interview him – presumably with other candidates too – but to then hire him. Hmmmm….

    And, similarly, Helfrich – another guy many (including the brass at Oregon) decreed as not a good coach – may be reuniting w/ Kelly, to run his offense in LA.

    So, there we have it. The jury is still way, way out, in my mind on Roper, and those who believe Mac has hit his ceiling at CU, too.

    Go Buffs.

    1. you can bet Smith will be calling the plays, he is an ex QB…much like Kelly did with the Ducks. I’m sure Lindgren is a first class clipboard guy like Helfrich was and who failed when left to his own devices.
      Go and ride OSU in Vegas. Put your money where your mouth is.

      1. Hey EP, as you probably know, Lindgren was a QB in college, too. Lower level than Smith.

        And yeah, both Kelly and Smith are into hiring clipboard holders. Ok.

        As to putting my money where my mouth is? I don’t do Vegas gambling. But, I’ll bet you. I’ll put money (or a hearty handshake, mail order beer, or whatever) that the OSU offense does better next year than it did this year. Of course, in your eyes, that’ll all be due to Smith though, right? How would we determine that?

        We could also do an over/under on how long Lindgren stays w/ Smith as OC at OSU.

        I’m open to other options, if you got ’em.

        Go Buffs.

          1. I’m starting to think you love lingering more than the Buffs….bro in law?. Time for you to become a beaver…..and the OSU offense cant go anywhere else but up if even a smidgen

    2. You said Lindy was a mental midget not me. I only said he was mediocre and he is.

      Helfrich never ran Kelly offense when he was there. Kelly did period. And he didn’t do a good job when kelly left and the brass caught on fast? As EP says. clipboard guy. And lindy won’t be calling the plays at OSU either.

      Buffs

      Note: Lots of proteges of good coaches that didn’t make it eh?

      Note 2: Helfrich MAY be uniting with Kelly. MAY you wishful thinking word……….like after every game this year………Yur a good fan………MickeyMac MAY make it……….Roper MAY be good…………yakety kakety bakety……….Hilarious………

  6. Great analysis and you look at all angles. It’s good to be skeptical about any hire like this and I agree that the personalities and egos are going to have to mesh for this to work perfectly. BUT…the main thing is that the Buffs are getting a high quality assistant coach that has great experience and success coaching quarterbacks. When I watched the new year’s bowl games I really noticed how well-coached these teams looked, in addition to having exceptional talent. The Buffs are lacking in the assistant coaching talent level and Roper is going to raise that bar. Glass half full! Great hire for MacIntyre.

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