“What Did They Expect Was Going to Happen?”

Bruce Feldman (Fox Sports) and Stewart Mandel (The Athletic) have a podcast called “The Audible with Stew & Bruce: A show about college football“. Aside from the not-so-clever name for the show, it is a quality podcast with excellent content.

An episode posted this week was entitled, “Georgia Tech fires Geoff Collins. Who is on the shortlist to takeover? Week 5 mailbag!“. Before diving into a discussion as to the candidates for the open job at Georgia Tech, Feldman and Mandel speculated as to which schools might be next to fire their coach … with Colorado and Auburn the most likely candidates.

Here’s what they said about the CU program:

Mandel: There’s been a Power Five coach fired each week since Week Two. So the question is: Will there be another one this week?

Feldman: There might be. Let’s keep an eye on Colorado. Karl Dorrell’s Buffs have been blown out by 25-plus in each of their first four games. It wouldn’t shock me if that one opened up soon. 

Mandel: The weird thing about Karl Dorrell is … It was an odd hire to begin with. They gave him a pretty big contract. It’s not like SEC money, but I believe (the buyout) is in the $10 million neighborhood. And you could see this coming a mile away in the off-season. They had so many guys transfer out, and some of them are already playing key roles for other teams, and then he purposely – from what I’ve been told – purposely chose to go light on bringing in incoming transfers. So … What did they expect was going to happen? 

Feldman: I don’t know. It’s weird … He took over in the pandemic year, and they probably played as well as they have in like five years. Since that year, it’s been a big decline. I don’t if there’s much reason for anyone to let him go. It’s not like they are going to get this thing solved. From everything I’ve heard, people inside the program don’t think there are draft prospects on this roster.

Hard to hear … but hard to argue.

What did we expect would happen?

Much more than what we have gotten, certainly.

We did expect improved play from the offense.

“Our offense is in better shape than any offense we’ve had over the last two years, and it hasn’t even been here a year yet,” Dorrell said during Fall Camp when asked about CU’s offense under new offensive coordinator Mike Sanford. “That tells you it’s great work and commitment by not only our offensive staff, but the players spending the time to really get it down.”

What we got … 

One of the worst offenses, not only in the country in 2022, but statistically one of the worst offenses in the history of Colorado football.

Now … The Buffs did manage to score their first touchdown in the first quarter all season, and their first touchdown in the third quarter all season. They hit the 20-point mark for the first time in 2022. Freshman Owen McCown and Anthony Hankerson show promise.

But neither player was supposed to be on the field this fall. McCown was third on the depth chart a month ago, with Brendon Lewis and J.T. Shrout battling for the starting job. Anthony Hankerson wasn’t even supposed to be on the roster this fall, as he was planning on delaying his enrollment until January … that was until the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, Jarek Broussard, bolted for Michigan State.

The Buffs managed 340 yards of total offense against Arizona, the second-highest total of the season, and the three touchdowns was a season-high, but there were only a few moments when CU fans were allowed to believe that the offense had turned a corner.

Even if CU’s offense is beginning to find its rhythm, it makes little difference, because CU’s defense is so bad.

Really, really bad.

We did expect improved play from the defense … at least from the defensive line.

“We feel like we have two really solid groups that are really only defined by a hair between what’s the first team and what’s the second team,” Dorrell said of his defensive line, which had starters in Terrance Lang, Na’im Rodman and Jalen Sami who came into the season with a combined 72 career starts. “I have two defensive fronts that I took a lot of confidence in. They have a lot of talent and they’re passionate players that know that they can make plays.”

What we got … 

A defensive line which is last in the nation in rushing defense … and by a wide margin.

The Buffs came into the Arizona game giving up an average of 323.2 yards per game on the ground. That number was so bad that it was a fully 60 yards per game behind the No. 130 team in the nation.

The defensive line has been so bad that the Buff secondary, considered to be a major concern coming into the season, had played fairly well by comparison.

Until the Arizona game, of course.

Settling for “only” 178 yards rushing, the Wildcats took to the air. Apparently unimpressed with CU’s 7th-ranked pass defense, Arizona quarterback Jayden de Laura torched the Buffs for 484 yards and six touchdowns.

Overall, the Wildcats had 11 drives on the night, with 10 of them winding up in Colorado territory. If it hadn’t been for a fourth down stop at the goal line, a missed field goal, and some mercy at the end of the game, the Arizona offense, which was 81st in scoring coming into the game, could have scored 60.

“That was a very challenging offense and that quarterback, we didn’t slow him down,” Dorrell meekly offered after the game. “We didn’t slow him down at all … We just have a tremendous amount of work to do.”

Thing is … Dorrell says “we have a tremendous amount of work to do” after every game.

However well CU may be practicing … it ain’t translating at kickoff.

We expected – at the very least – a competitive team.

It wasn’t that we were expecting a title contender. For many of us, a bowl bid wasn’t really even in the offing, with CU’s non-conference schedule not offering any easy wins. But the 4-8 record from the 2021 season seemed to be closer to the floor for the 2022 team, not the ceiling.

Perhaps the CollegeFootballNews prediction for the CU season rung the most true for many of us in the Buff Nation back in August: “This might be a better team without the great record to show for it”.

CU is definitely not a better team in 2022 … and the Buffs’ record speaks for itself.

If we didn’t get what we expected from the 2022 Buffs in the five games of the season …

What do we expect now? 

New CU President Todd Saliman is at least saying the right things.

“Clearly, we’re not performing at the level we’d like to be performing,” Saliman said in an interview with the Boulder Daily Camera this past week. “I am grateful every day for our student-athletes and what they do to try to win, but we have not figured out the formula yet and we need to fix that. I am relying on the people who are closest to the action – the chancellor (Phil DiStefano) and the athletic director (Rick George) – to find a path forward for us. I expect success. I expect excellence and I expect us to turn this around, both in the short term and the long term. We have work to do.”

If success isn’t forthcoming, is CU ready to cough up the millions it would take to not only pay off the existing coaches, but have enough in the kitty to lure in a coaching staff which can be successful?

It would be a hefty financial commitment to make yet another change with the football program. Just three-and-a-half years ago, CU reached a buyout settlement of $7.238 million after firing Mike MacIntyre. The buyout for Dorrell and the other coaches with guaranteed contracts may push past $10 million.

According to Saliman, though, finances would not prevent CU from making a change if change was deemed necessary.

“CU always lives in a financially-constrained environment in every area where we do work – academics, financial aid, research and athletics,” Saliman said. “It’s just the nature of higher education in Colorado. We also make investments in the areas where we think we need to that are strategic and are part of a long-term strategy for success.

“Of course finances are a consideration, but finances are never the only consideration. We look at things strategically to try to determine what will benefit us most over the long term.”

The long term for CU looks much like the short term – bleak. Until or unless CU shows its fans that it committed to winning – and everything that entails both on and off the field – we can expect more of the same.

What else would we expect to happen?


11 Replies to ““What Did They Expect Would Happen?””

  1. Josh McNown? Kalani? The whole AF staff?

    I’m not Nebraska delusional to think any/everyone wants this job. Tucker could have been a springboard into marketing the job as a springboard but right now I don’t know if I’d quit my job to take it.

    That’s hyperbole but this is the least desirable open job right now.

  2. Dorrell needs to be let go to communicate to the team there is accountability and changes will be made. Wilson needs to be fired becuase this is the worst defense I have ever seen. They are constantly misaligned, they do not adjust and the tackling is atrocious. Smith needs to be fired becuase he makes every linebacker he coaches worse. That probably includes Landman who was just so good it didn’t matter. Promote Sanford, but turn play calling over to the passing coordinator, Sanford for some reason gets caught in these weird cycles, we need to try a different play caller. Let Sanford be a rah rah guy. On the defensive side, I am not sure who you bring up to dc. Maybe call Leavitt up and see if he will come in and run a defense for 500 k this year…. Cabral is around the team see if he would be willing to coach ilb.

  3. I got it! Clean house. Rick, Lance, the entire football staff. Give the kids the rest of the season off. Go get a line up of the samples or big head Todd, maybe contraband, or the dead and co to have concerts for the remaining home games. You know, the bands from when we were good at football in Boulder (the dead excepted, but you get the idea).

    It would give Todd time to hire the right search firm to bring in a new athletic leadership team of transfers.

    Go Buffs

  4. The sad thing is this goes so much more deeper than KD’s apparent inability to motivate players. Fire him, let a young assistant fire up the boys with some energy, sure. But Wilson’s defense seems rotten by design. Offense is still TBD with only a year and freshman QB.

    RG is not being mentioned much in the press, in terms of KD’s contract and the expensive buyout. He needs to own that and come up with some big donor $$ to make up for his mistake.

  5. This is now clearly a worse defense than under Embree.

    Sure, KD needs to be fired. But so does OLB coach / DC Chris Wilson. Watching the game it’s like cu is playing with seven men on the field on defense, that’s how irrelevant the linebackers have been this season.

  6. I saw a chart during the Utah-Oregon State game that said Utah has 12 3 star players in the NFL. They seem to know how to develop players much better than the Buffs.

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