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Are You Drinking the Karl Dorrell Kool-Aid?

I was perusing the Omaha and Lincoln newspaper sites the other day, looking for comical reactions to the NCAA investigation of the Nebraska football program (always fun), when I came across an article by Dirk Chatelain of the Omaha World-Herald. Entitled “Calculating Nebraska’s preseason hype, or lack thereof“, Chatelain opened:

Where’s the buzz? Where’s the hope?

Just eight days from the season opener, there’s no drumbeat of Husker hubbub. More like the drip of a leaky faucet.

Neighbors and coworkers aren’t engaged in deep conversations about the depth chart. National college football analysts barely even mention Nebraska anymore, unless they’re mocking alleged NCAA violations. Is this what August felt like during the Bill Jennings era, the last time NU produced four straight losing seasons?

Nebraska’s football decline is no secret, but it’s still stunning to enter a season with so little hype. Despite returning crowds (hopefully), a veteran NU roster and a new athletic director with ties to the glory years, Husker enthusiasm lags behind.

We can certainly spend time enjoying recaps of the decline of Nebraska football (62-36, anyone?), noting that Nebraska hasn’t won a conference championship in the 21st century and has been a disaster under local hero Scott Frost. The fact remains, however, that the University of Colorado continues to suffer from the same national indifference, and is also longing to return to national relevance.

Enter Karl Dorrell.

The CU Kickoff Luncheon was held on Friday, and Dorrell said much of what you would expect from a 1st/2nd-year head coach for a program which has been struggling:

“(Winning culture) starts with your attitude. It starts when you get up in the morning, it starts with a purpose of what you’re doing as you walk and go through your day. … It’s about getting your job done and doing the tasks that are involved and doing it at the highest level. And you start with a great attitude. And my team if you notice … we don’t do things the ordinary way. We do things in a different way. We’re early to meetings, we’re early to everything we do because we want to have that edge about we’re better than everyone because we prepare better than everyone in every aspect. So our attitude is about taking charge, and about showing how competitive we are as a program. It starts with a workman’s type effort.”

Dorrell indicated that he believed his team – this year’s team – was ready to compete and play well.

“We have a football team that’s really eager to really prove who they are,” Dorrell told the crowd. “You’re going to see a great, inspired team that’s going to do great things. But, I don’t want you to be surprised because that’s what our expectations are.”

Under Dorrell, CU’s annual goal, he said, will be to contend for a championship.

“That’s what this place deserves,” he said. “That’s what you’re gonna get.

“I guarantee you this: you’re gonna like what you see. You’re gonna see a passionate, inspired football team that’s going to lay it on the line for each other. And you couldn’t ask for anything more.”

I know. I know.

We’ve heard it all before.

Many of us were there when fresh-faced Rick Neuheisel took over the program, strumming his guitar and taking the team for innertube rides down Boulder Creek. Then there was Gary Barnett and CU’s “Return to Dominance” campaign, followed by Dan Hawkins (50 wins in five years at Boise State!), the Jon Embree experiment, Mike MacIntyre (he turned around lowly San Jose State! Imagine what he can do in Boulder!), and carpet-bagger Mel Tucker …

They’ve all trotted out former Buff legends. They’ve all talked about returning CU to its glory days, and talked about big seasons. Was it Hawkins or MacIntyre who guaranteed ten wins at a preseason luncheon … before producing another losing season? Hard to remember … these speeches all start to run together.

So what, if anything, was different about Karl Dorrell’s speech?

It was one word Dorrell used in his speech … perception.

“I want to change the perception,” Dorrell said. “I want it to be a winning perception. When I came here a year ago, that wasn’t the case. I want that perception to be realized again with people that are behind us as supporters.”

It gets back to what the Cornhusker writer was lamenting about when writing about the Nebraska program … the lack of national interest. That’s been a problem for CU for what seems like forever. Colorado has been largely off of the national radar for the better part of 15 years.

And the same is true this fall.

Despite …

  • Having the reigning Pac-12 Coach-of-the-Year and the returning Pac-12 Offensive Player-of-the-Year;
  • Having 18 returning starters, including Nate Landman, who was having an All-American season before his injury;
  • Finishing second in the division last fall, missing out on a chance at the division due only to COVID cancellations by ASU and USC …

… the 2021 season opens much like any other of the past decade.

Colorado was picked to finish 5th in the Pac-12 South in the preseason media poll. In the 11 years CU has been a part of the Pac-12, the Buffs have been picked to finish higher than fifth only once (and that was in 2017, when the reigning Pac-12 South champions were picked to finish … fourth).

While we have been conditioned to think little of the Buffs, the reality is that Colorado has begun to hold its own in the conference.

Pac-12 South records the past five seasons (2016-20):

  • USC … 39-19
  • Utah … 39-20
  • Arizona State … 29-26
  • Colorado … 29-27
  • UCLA … 20-36
  • Arizona … 19-35

The Buffs are almost in a dead heat with Arizona State for the third-best record in the division over the past five seasons … and the Buffs are 2-0 against Herm Edwards. UCLA is well behind CU in overall record, and hasn’t had a winning season since 2015 (oh yeah, and the Buffs are 2-1 against Chip Kelly). And Arizona … would be even more of a joke if it were not for Buff-killer Kahlil Tate.

And yet … Colorado is given the benefits of no doubts. Arizona State is nationally ranked (24th in the AP preseason poll), and UCLA is considered to be a dark-horse contender for the Pac-12 South title.

And CU?

Crickets.

“I worked for the best coach in the history of this program, Bill McCartney,” Dorrell said Friday. “I learned a lot from coach Bill McCartney. … I’m very proud to have been part of his lineage. This team is going to learn those aspects, as well.

“I think (current players) are starting to understand there’s a tremendous history of pride and tradition that this program is all about. And they’re going to show you that this fall. … We’re going to restore that culture, that winning culture.”

The Buffs will have plenty of opportunities on the national stage. Fully half of the schedule will be played against teams in the Top 25 of the AP preseason poll.

Can it be done?

Karl Dorrell certainly thinks so …

“Thank goodness, I did have a full offseason. I had two months of training from February to March of this year. And I had spring practice. And I had a month off for the guys to go home and see their families and then I had an unbelievable June and July that these men dedicated over the summer. So they’re ready. They’re ready to do some special things. And a lot of is because of their own efforts and things that they’ve learned along the way.”

“Our goal every year is to win our division, take care of our business. Take that next step and get to that championship game. Take of business, where we’re playing our best football at the end of the season and then ride to it to wherever we go from there. That’s our expectation each and every year. That’s how we’re going to recruit. They’ll know it before they even get in the door.”

Are you drinking the Karl Dorrell Kool-Aid?

Is this the man to turn pre-season platitudes into in-season victories?

We’ll find out soon enough …

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7 Replies to “Drinking the Karl Dorrell Kool-Aid?”

  1. The comment that struck me was when HCKD stated that his first year on CU’s staff the team went 9-1-1 and it felt as if they went 1-9-1. That is what I believe he wants to get back to, as do we all. It’s just after 20 some seasons of fairly disappointing records (with a couple of outliers), we need a longer run of wins, especially against Utah and USC.

  2. Buffalo Up
    I’m just gonna say this
    In 2019 the Buffaloes scored 19.2 points per game in conference games
    In 2020 the Buffaloes scored 32.2 points per game in conference
    Up 13 points.
    In 2021 the Buffaloes need to be at 40 points per game. Up 7.8 points.

    It should be done.

    That is where the top teams in conference are at.

    Handle it !!!!

  3. The things I have noticed more than anything else about Dorrell’s team compared to others is: 1. Discipline and 2. Prepared (except for Arizona)….. every team for the last few coaches always seemed to have discipline issues, and I am talking more about on the field here. Penalties that were mental penalties like offsides, false starts, personal fouls. Thing that can be avoided by having a disciplined team. Last years team did not have those sorts of things. I also think it speaks to more than just penalties that hurt you. A disciplined team knows it’s assignment and executes (one of the reasons I think we are getting a new dc is because “knowing their assignment” was actually too complex so they are changing the philosophy. The second one is being prepared. It goes beyond just scouting the other team it is being ready for a situation. While everyone was going crazy at the end of both the Stanford and UCLA game as both teams made furious come backs Dorrell had done the math. Run the clock out and they can’t score enough. Don’t we all wish we would have had that leadership in 2018….. there are no bad time outs that I can recall. Remember the Macintyre time outs? Dorrell is prepared where as I am not sure any of our other coaches really were.

    I have drink the cool aid. Bet the over….

  4. While we have been conditioned to think little of the Buffs? Says who?

    My optimism runs high every year. This year, maybe a little more so because of the increasing talent on the roster. More next level guys than we’ve had in a while. With a smattering of others behind them.

    It is unfortunate to have lost JT, but if brendon and drew can make quick and accurate pre and post snap decisions, and get the ball to their playmakers, this team may surprise the naysayers again.

    Cannot wait for the season to start.

    Go Buffs

  5. Personally can care less about the national media, esp. at this current time in the program. CFB Media is truly very reactive outside of the top programs…it’s obvious not many of the Pac12 announcers even watch previous games of the team’s they are calling (there is one notable exception). Basically it’s a joke and hence we keep the Daily Camera and our beloved cuatthegame in our hearts.
    Also in fairness we are now breaking in a new QB, while UCLA/ASU have established All-League potential players (big difference in the mind of media). ASU and UCLA at the end of last season would have given the Buffs all they could handle (and personally don’t think we would have beat either of them even in Boulder). Just win baby and everything else will fall into place.

  6. Those are mighty inspirational words.
    Seems like Karl was speaking more to the players than the public reinforcing the motivation and attitude he has been trying to instill.
    Yeah, the coaching klunks that have all gone before him have said pretty much the same sort of things. Maybe its only the articulation but it seems more genuine coming from Karl. Even so I think Karl is being cautiously optimistic as am I. The only signs if any real weakness on the team from my seat is the absence of Shrout and Filip……and maybe depth on the D .line.
    My cautious optimism is tempered by the gauntlet at the beginning of the season.

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