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Q & A With Assistant Head Coach Darrin Chiaverini – Part II

On July 24th, at the Pac-12 Media Day, CU head coach Mel Tucker announced that he was promoting wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Darrin Chiaverini to assistant head coach. In making the announcement, Tucker said, “Darrin has done a really good job recruiting; he’s relentless. He has a really good feel for the University of Colorado and its history.  And he’s really stepped up and has been really helpful in our effort to create the football culture that we want to have here.”

Chiaverini, who was a wide receiver under Rick Neuheisel (1995-98), is in fourth year as a coach at CU. Last season, Chiaverini was co-offensive coordinator, in addition to wearing the hats of wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

Part One of our conversation covered recruiting at the University of Colorado, and can be found here

How has the transition been with the new offense, or at least a new offensive structure with new offensive coordinator Jay Johnson? (Note … my conversation with Coach Chiaverini took place before his promotion to assistant head coach) … 

It’s been good. Coach Johnson has been good to me, and we’ve had open conversations about what we are doing, and what we are running as far as run and pass concepts. The offense is a combination of what Coach Johnson has done in the past, and some of what we have done here, so I think it’s a good meshing of concepts.

We’ve watched Dan Hawkins coach his son. We’ve watched Mike MacIntyre coach his son. Is it difficult to coach your son? Do you worry about being too soft – or too hard – on your son when he is one of your receivers?

I treat him just like all of the other kids, I really do. Now, he’s my son, and we’re going to have conversations after practice, or at night if we go to dinner. But I coach him hard, and I’m trying to make him better. It’s a blessing to have him here and be around him here, and see him grow as a young man. It’s special to get a chance to do that at the collegiate level.

As a player, you were a part of a pair of ten-win teams, which then dropped to five wins (in 1997) and then bounced back (in 1998) to an eight-win season. Do you see any parallels between the 1997 and 1998 teams and the 2018 and 2019 teams which would lead you to believe that a winning season is in the offing this fall?

I truly believe that your team is as only as good as your players’ leadership. Coaches can lead as much as they possibly can, but at the end of the day, your seniors and juniors need to set up and take accountability for the team. I think that the senior class this year, they need to step up and take ownership of where we are going to go.

Coach Tucker has done a great job of implementing his vision for what this team should be, and we’re going to coach them hard as coaches, but then the players have got to take it over. When you see great teams, you see great leadership. They’ve got guys who want to be great. They hold each other accountable. They hold the underclassmen accountable. They won’t take failure, and, if they do fail, they fight even harder.

I think what I saw in our 5-6 team when I was a junior, and the 8-4 team when I was a senior was that I saw the seniors in that ‘98 class, and I was a senior that year, just refuse to let ourselves not get to a bowl game and not compete at a high level. I saw that with the ‘95 and ‘96 classes (who went out with ten-win seasons), and then I felt we kind of took a step back in that ‘97 year. There was too much finger-pointing, and not enough looking in the mirror and saying, ‘What can I do to get better?’.

I think if the players take that role on, and hold each other accountable, and if the seniors say, ‘Hey, this is our team, and we’re going to come together’, you can see good things happen. I’m seeing that right now with this group, and I’m hoping it will transition over to the fall.

At the end of the day, coaches coach and players play, and the players have to hold each other accountable, and there has to be accountability within those groups.

The 2016 team had a ‘refuse to lose’ quality, and had a really strong senior class. They had really strong leaders who would not let each other down.

Do you see that developing downstairs (in the weight room and practice fields)?

I do. I think what Coach Tucker brought to spring ball really pushed our football team and made us better. Coach (Drew) Wilson and his staff, in the strength and conditioning department, is pushing those players. If you can push ‘em, push ‘em, push ‘em, and get them out of their comfort zones, then you will have players who will hold each other accountable on game days.

As a player, you only had one season without a bowl game. How important is it for a program to post a winning record and earn that bowl trip?

Bowl games are important because you get extra practices with your young players, and developing them for the next year, for the spring. I think it’s important not just to go to bowl game, but go to elite bowl games. You want to go to the upper echelon bowl games, not just be able to say, ‘hey, we get to go to a bowl game. We won six games’.

I do think it’s important, obviously, for us to win games, but also think it’s important to go to the upper echelon bowls. The only way we’re going to do that is working hard, and putting the work in during fall camp. All of the great teams I was a part of here, and the 2016 team was that the ‘refuse to lose’ attitude, and holding each other accountable.

From a fan perspective, there has been much discussion about the upcoming Nebraska game. By the same token, there will be an important game played in Denver (probably for the last time ever) against Colorado State. How do you relate to Coach Tucker that the Rams will treat this game as their Super Bowl, and will have a game plan that they have spent much of the off-season preparing, in hopes of getting their coach off of the hot seat by upsetting Colorado?

You have to be careful in over-hyping it, too. At the end of the day, you have to see what they do on film, and get your guys prepared. Yes, it’s a rivalry. It’s an in-state rivalry, and we are going to respect that. But we have to get our team ready. They are our first game, our first opponent, and we’ll have our team ready.

I have played in this game, and coached in this game, seven times now, and I know what it means. But I also believe you can’t over-hype games, you really can’t. You can prepare each and every day, make sure your guys know what they are doing, so they can go out there are perform on Saturday, or in this case on a Friday.

Every week it’s all about you and your team. If you are performing at a high level, offensively and defensively, and on special teams, the result will take care of itself. But if you over-hype guys, and you over-hype your opponent, that’s when you get into trouble, because you are going to pump them up one week and not the next week, and you can’t go on that roller-coaster. You really need to be focused upon yourself, and your team and your unit.

How much fun is it to have Nebraska on the schedule this fall?

I love it. I’m excited. Winning last year in Lincoln was big for our program. That’s always been a fun game to play in. It’s always a fun game to prepare for. I know the history and tradition here, and I know this place will be rocking. I’m sure there will be some red here, but we have to do our best to keep the red out.

Blending of the new coaching staff – how has the transition been in bringing in the new staff?

It’s been good. I think Coach Tucker has done a great job of bringing in not only good coaches, but good people. They are family men, and I’m excited to work with this group. It could have been awkward with Coach Johnson coming in here, with me being the coordinator last year, but I have respect for him, and I know what my role is, and I’m going to do that to the best of my ability. I believe we have good coaches, and really good men, and I believe Coach Tucker has been unbelievable. I am grateful to Coach Tucker for letting me stay, but I am also I know what I am bringing to the table.

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4 Replies to “Q & A With Darrin Chiaverini – Part II”

  1. Stuart,

    Thanks for providing the interview. Chev seems like a great person and I love his passion for CU.

    I look forward to reading the Tucker interview tonight.

    GO BUFFS!

  2. It’s a bit odd how little is being said or written about Montez this offseason. It’s all about Viska. Outside that magical run in 2016, Ducks and 2 other starts, he’s been pretty mediocre, especially when the chips get down. Hasn’t shown the ability to elevate the team over adversity. Hoping he steps up big time in this area as a senior.

    1. I think he will. Its tough, even for a QB, to elevate (D aside of course), an entire team with a mediocre O line and less than mediocre game time management by the coaches. During and after the OR St. debacle the garden hat lost the entire team.

  3. I really like what Chev is saying here. Sounds really grounded. Still I would like to quiz him about the banal play calling last year. Forget Vegas. Its even more amazing how much stays within coaching circles.

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