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“I would hope you would support who we are, not who we are not”

I received an email the other day from CU at the Gamer Dan Gray. It came last Sunday night, soon after the University of Colorado had made it official: Karl Dorrell was to be named the 27th full-time head coach at the University of Colorado.

The email came on the heels of another email I received from another CU at the Gamer, who wrote:

So disappointed in RG.  Thought he was the best, but this is beyond terrible.  From the hire to the contract to the assistant pool. Tough circumstances for sure, but even Mora would’ve been better than this.  

Having CU ties as a primary factor is just insane.

Hope you are able to hang in there, but I’m spent and give up.  If CU doesn’t care, then I no longer care to invest my time and emotions.

I couldn’t blame the emailer for his disappointment, who wasn’t alone in his frustration.

It had been a rough two weeks for the Buff Nation. We thought that all was right in CU world – or was at least heading in the right direction – under Mel Tucker.

And then we had the rug pulled out from underneath us.

With Tucker gone, the search for his replacement seemed to go from a sense of urgency to a sense of desperation.

Not only were there not a great number of candidates immediately available in the month of February, those who were potential candidates were turning the Buffs down.

For what seemed like an eternity, there were two banner headlines posted on the CBS Sports website:

Not a good look …

There was a long list of potential replacements for Tucker … Sarkisian, Bieniemy, former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach Bret Beilema, Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, CU interim head coach Darrin Chiaverini, Cal head coach Justin Wilcox, former UCLA head coach Jim Mora … plenty of names associated with the search. There were positives … and concerns … about all of the candidates.

And none of them were named Karl Dorrell.

When Dorrell’s name bubbled to the surface last weekend, there were few would would have been able, without prompting, to remember Dorrell’s tenure at UCLA – long before CU joined the Pac-12. Even fewer would have been able to recall how Dorrell had fared in his stint as an assistant coach at CU under Bill McCartney and Rick Neuheisel.

Karl Dorrell was, to put it politely, not a “splash” hire.

And the national pundits have had no issue in taking CU to task for Dorrell’s hire …

Stewart Mandel at The Athletic

I’ve seen some strange/questionable hires in my day — Kansas/Charlie Weis, UConn/Paul Pasqualoni, Nebraska/Mike Riley … heck, I’ll throw Colorado State/Steve Adazzio in there — but this one may take the cake. Not because Dorrell was necessarily an awful coach at UCLA (mediocre is the more accurate word), but because it was just … so … long ago. Current recruits were in preschool the last time Dorrell was a college head coach in 2007.

And it’s not like he’s been soaring up the NFL assistant ranks since then. By all accounts he’s just been your regular old journeyman position coach for three different franchises (including two stints with the Dolphins), save for one season in 2014 when he returned to college as Vanderbilt’s offensive coordinator and got fired after producing the nation’s 119th-ranked offense. I went combing through his post-UCLA résumé, and as best I can tell the high point was as quarterbacks coach for the Houston Texans in 2012 when Matt Schaub made the Pro Bowl and the team went 12-4.

Jon Wilner at the Pac-12 Hotline

The Karl Dorrell hire has generated more shrugs than sizzle with many Colorado fans and in the media, and it’s difficult to envision an instant bump in CU season-ticket sales.

And the Hotline’s reaction, frankly, is essentially the same.

Dorrell, a Miami Dolphins assistant, wouldn’t have been on our list of 20 potential candidates to replace Mel Tucker.

(And if you had suggested his name for the 21st spot, we would have assumed it was in jest.)

Dorrell was an undistinguished head coach in his only previous tenure, which ended during the second Bush presidency.

He spent most of the past 13 years in the NFL, never mentioned as a candidate for head coaching jobs at the pro or college level … not a hot name or a warm name or even a room-temperature name.

Karl Dorrell is the best Colorado could do?

[Note: The remainder of Mandel’s article was fraught with errors, including the crediting of a “search committee” for Dorrell’s hire, when anyone who had paid any attention to the process knew that CU’s hiring was done by a “Committee of Two” – AD Rick George and Associate AD Lance Carl. Also, Jon Wilner did go on to qualify his criticisms of Dorrell’s hire, albeit only marginally].

So much for the University of Colorado getting back on the national radar.

And all of this on top of a 15-year drought of historic proportions.

… In 2004, the University of Colorado was coming off of a 15-year run in which the Buffs went 125-53-4 (.698), the 8th-best record in the nation over that span. Over the next decade-and-a-half, CU has gone 70-118 (.372) … and you don’t want to know where CU ranks nationwide over that period.

… In 2004, CU ranked 15th on the all-time wins list (pause to think about that for a second … 15th on the all-time wins list in college football), and 21st in all-time winning percentage. Now, after wandering the desert (for what seems like 40 years), Colorado has dropped out of the top 25 in all-time victories, coming in at No. 26, with 710 (and, because we like a little irony, just ahead of No. 27 Michigan State, which has 708 all-time victories).

In all-time winning percentage, Colorado has fallen off a cliff, down from 21st to No. 38 nationally. Back in the day, CU’s winning percentage would have been good enough for 2nd in the Pac-12, behind only USC. Since CU’s nose-dive, the Buffs have fallen behind Washington, Arizona State, Utah, and Stanford in all-time winning percentage, are holding off No. 39 UCLA by fractions, with Oregon – you know, the program which didn’t have a 10-win season in the 20th century – not far behind.

And now CU gets a coach in Karl Dorrell with zero national buzz, a hire which has the Buff Nation lamenting about being viewed not as a destination school for coaches, but a stepping stone to a better job (even if, apparently, the coach is marginally successful).

The national storyline … CU has become a school which wasn’t able to attract a name coach – even long enough for him to use CU as a springboard for a better gig.

So, yes, when I received that first email last Sunday night, saying “I’m spent and give up.  If CU doesn’t care, then I no longer care to invest my time and emotions” … who was I to argue?

But then Dan’s email came along about an hour later. Dan’s thoughts:

Remember this line from Hoosiers: “I would hope you support who we are, not who we are not.”

I think all buff fans need to know this. The national sports media will dump CU on this. So be it. 

I’m keeping the faith. It’s the coolest place on the planet. 

Love those buffs. 

Keep up the great work. 

The few

The proud

The cu golden buff fans. 

In case you are not placing the Hoosiers reference, here is the “This is Your Team” speech by Gene Hackman:

And, of course, Dan is exactly right.

This is our team. We may not be starting with Jimmy Chitwood on the roster (or wearing a head set).

But This Is Our Team.

From all reports, the Recruiting Class of 2020 is holding up. Many, if not most, of the Class ranked No. 35 by the recruiting services, will be a part of the team in 2020.

If these young men are willing to stick by their commitment to CU, so shall we all.

There will be a few defections (quarterback Blake Stenstrom and graduate transfer linebacker Brendan Pyne are to date the only two to report since the Mel Tucker defection that they are not going to be Buffs this fall). There is always attrition in the spring – and that was going to be true even if Tucker was the head coach.

What we can do as Buff fans is tune out the negative as much as possible (my apologies in advance for posting the negative, but it is going to be the national narrative over the next six months).

We can renew our season tickets. We can show up for the Spring Game on April 25th.

We can support the players, a good percentage of whom will be playing for their third head coach in three years this fall.

We can’t dwell on the bitter taste left in our mouths by Mel Tucker.

We can’t lament the coaching candidates who may or may not have been offered the job, or on CU’s short list.

“I would hope you support who we are, not who we are not.”

This is your team.

—–

31 Replies to ““This is Your Team””

  1. The part that is toughest to swallow is out of our control, in my younger days we could compete with anyone in the country. That is now impossible with the economics involved in CFB, and the fact that Boulder will never be a football first school (tried that and it got beat down pretty good, see GB/Katie Hnida for the inglorious end to that era).
    Just need to get my head wrapped around the new realities, but it’s going to take time. I honestly believe we/the PAC12 should go to mid-major status, it would make us all feel better (have more hope) year/year.

  2. I’m with the majority that was less than excited by the selection of Coach Dorrell. However, for all those questioning the hire or your loyalty to the program, just remember the following. . .at least you didn’t go to NU and have to cheer for that sad situation!
    #skobuffs #shouldertoshoulder

  3. I’m not throwing rocks, just saying I had hoped for more. Of course, like our kids we take and love them for what they are, but we can HOPE for better until shown differently. Today’s 2 new staffers are very encouraging and I hope this continues. But in the end it is the CEO who sets the tone for the team and I will have to trust Lance and Rick perceived something in Coach Karl that others have not. For CU and the team’s sake I very much want them to be successful, off the field more than on. My time at CU (twice) really helped me be successful and I wish only the best for all of the students.

  4. Well, that’s a lot of hopeful rationalization. I love the Buffs too, but the best indicator of future performance is past performance. If KD had been a hotshot at his past jobs I’d have more hope, but he was not! He has a pretty mediocre resume and to think he will suddenly become lights out is not realistic. You are looking with hope at all the best possible situations in his past, but not the more typically pattern of his not being selected for important roles year after year. You should be asking yourself, if so good at receivers, why not an OC in all these years at the NFL? If full of such potential, why haven’t other NCAA teams seen this and asked him to be their head coach, or at least other head coaches brought him to their colleges as OC? If you are buying this as a great hire, you better watch out if someone offers you a bridge back east…
    Lastly, I suggest he should have kept the Tight End coach to learn more about recruiting and ease the 1st year change. Bring young Embree on the 2nd year after more of the staff is settled, he’ll still be around and will be more seasoned. KD has been out of the NCAA for a while and much of the rules etc. have changed over that time. Hiring 6 new coaches is a lot to do and very disruptive this late in the season. I know new brooms like to sweep clean and have a fresh start, but they often use that 1st year as an excuse and it’s very bumpy, we can’t afford that. Just one Buff’s opinion.

    1. If there is anyone who has said this is a “great hire”, I have yet to find it.
      No one is doing hand stands over Karl Dorrell … yet.

      All I’m saying, for now, is that he is our coach. Dissing him is counter-productive.
      If you want to take your loyalty and go elsewhere, that is your right.
      The rest of us will be cheering the black-and-gold in the stands this fall …

      1. Both of you nailed, at least my feelings throughout all this. I felt it was a mediocre hire, but like Stu said this is our coach and I’m going down with him. But I do like the staff he has compiled thus far, and we have yet to hear even an inkling of any of the recruits defecting. I don’t count walk-on transfers in that.

  5. I was certainly upset by Tucker leaving. Normally not a knee jerk guy, I was at the point of being fed up after the string of losing seasons and low ceiling coaches and had to give myself a big timeout so I could cool down and think about things. Then I reflected on a different string of things: my love for the university, my wife and I have 5 (Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate) degrees between us from CU, my kids knew the fight song when they were 5 years old and started going to games (one time when my son was 8, he started humming the fight song in a lift line and soon other skiers/riders chimed in and started singing the fight song- in a lift line!), our family pregame traditions, my college roommate’s kid was a Ralphie handler, the beauty of the stadium and campus, supporting players who come from all over the nation to come to school here and play ball, and finally, could I envision not renewing my season tickets? The answer is no because I am a Buff for life.

  6. Welp the last time a group of Buffs gathered together no one on that staff have ever even been a coordinator let alone a head coach.

    Hmm 5 to go? How many more “Buffs”

  7. I jumped for joy when Neuheisel was named Coach Mac’s successor…I shouted from the roof tops when Barnett was hired…I thought that the hire of Hawk Ball was the greatest move ever…when Embree and EB were brought in, I was telling everyone that would listen that the Buffs are back and the ass kicking will begin…when WAC MAC was brought on, I again believed that we were on the path to greatness…Midnight Mel absolutely convinced me that a PAC 12 championship was a year away…

    With the exception of Neuheisel’s first year, and Barnett, I am totally tired of being kicked in the nuts since the early ‘90’s. Now Dorrell has arrived. I will high five anyone that will let me, I will support this new coach yet again.

    Just really looking for the ship to right itself this go around.

    Buff fan for life

  8. Thanks Stuart. I have to hold the faith, who else would root for. I think of all the pundits that thought Herm Edwards was a questionable hire and looks like he is doing fairly well. Have been a Buff fan since I was 8 yo, 44 yrs and counting, Go Buffs!

  9. Good hire, someone who know the Boulder limitations(Regents Kroll and Shoemaker I am calling you out).
    We were put in a tough situation and I think RG made a good choice.
    We have all been through a lot of frustration through the years since they made a mistake by firing Gary B.
    stay strong and continue to support the Buffs.
    Now if the Pac 12 can just fire Larry Scott. Step up DiStefano!

      1. 100%. That is why I posted it. And thought it was funny The similarities are absolutely there, but you won’t see that type of story about Dorrell.

        Go Buffs

  10. Well, clearly Taylor is another relationship hire. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not a good hire. He can probably relate well to recruits on a variety of levels. And, for a relatively young man, has a pretty diverse coaching background, and has been around a variety of players, staffs, etc.

    Seems to fit the Dorrell pattern. Not splashy, but could work well.

    Go Buffs

    1. Eric, the word “splashy” is being overused on this site regarding the Buffs. Were Dal Ward, Eddie Crowder, Bill McCartney splashy hires. Answer; NO. How are you going to get a splashy hire in February after the coach that you hired a year ago suddenly leaves you? MT really was not that splashy of a hire. I guess what I’m trying to say, what the hell is a “splash” hire? Maybe Nick Saban, Urban Myers, ……..I guess there might be some others out there but really can’t think of that many. Ogeron at LSU was not splashy, Debo at Clemson was not splashy.

      Let’s make a pact and ban that word for awhile, maybe for a long time. KD wins games as HC we go to a bowl finally, he has a good recruiting class in Dec. 2020, and even then we don’t need “SPLASHY.” Just good coaching, continuity, and some decent success for the next number of years, and a relevant program that can be thought of in the mix to compete in the PAC 12 to win a title.

      1. I think EB or Sark would have been splashy hires. Maybe Avalos. As to assistants? Maybe a name people outside the embree family would know?

        Now again, as you point out, does splash = success? Not necessarily.

        And about Taylor, specifically, vs Pupunu, you can maybe make a case that a guy who played nfl te for 9 yrs may not be as good a coach/teacher as a guy who coached nfl te’s for three.

        That is karl’s Job to sort out. And as I said, I am giving him the benefit of the doubt on Taylor. Plus, he has a relationship there.

        If Taylor can relate to and recruit kids well? That’ll go a long way. He is young, and yet has a varied background already, so may be able to do just that.

        Go Buffs

  11. This is a fantastic article. I totally agree with the premise. As an aside, I believe all the potential hires that had previous coaching experience should be considered retreads as in they were fired from their jobs. I think Rick George has the experience to pick the best of the bunch given that we, like most schools chose not to buy a current head coach like MSU did. We did our own thing which I think is what it means to be a Buff. We don’t buy what we need, we create it as in Bill McCartney and Eddie Crowder. It may not work out like some of our hires, but that’s life. You can’t make the situation “better” by complaining about it but you can by supporting it and moving onward.

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