Photo courtesy of Colorado athletics
The head coach of a college football program has a variety of responsibilities. Not only does he lead the crusade in recruiting, but he guides his coaching staff while setting the agenda and vision for the future of the program.
A coach must understand that he represents more than himself; he stands for his players and his program.
At Karl Dorrell’s opening press conference, it was clear he understood these priorities more than most.
Karl Dorrell is citing Bill McCartney as a major influence on his coaching style. He said the key to success is building relationships with players, and that leads to success.
"I want our players to aspire to do great things. It doesn't have to be in football, it can be in life"
— Henry Chisholm (@HenryChisholm) February 24, 2020
Such a style is a welcome change-of-pace after Colorado was burned in when Mel Tucker took the money and ran to East Lansing. While his decision will be debated in Boulder for years to come, it could have been just what the Buffaloes needed to take the next step.
Dorrell’s excitement for the job is contagious. He detailed how it was his dream job and that “nobody was going to keep [him] away from [it].” While the hire may not have been flashy at first glance, it is a man who has his players’ priorities in mind.
Additionally, how Tucker left may have opened the door for a revenge tour at Folsom Field. Players and fans alike have united behind Dorrell, and seem to believe in a coach once again. By Rick George’s decision to decline Mel Tucker the chance to speak with the players, it allows their hate and confusion to fester with time. In their eyes, Tucker left as a result of his lack of faith in Colorado’s personnel and not the chance to coach a Big Ten program.
As time goes on, the more the players will believe in Dorrell while they play to prove Tucker wrong, thus creating the biggest chip on these young player’s shoulders.
So, what should fans expect from Karl Dorrell?
Dorrell has been around for a while. In his over two-decade-long coaching career, he has taken a large influence from Buffs legend Bill McCartney while coaching incredible players, mainly receivers, at both the college and professional level. While he has mainly served as an offensive coordinator or assistant, he has had success in the Pac-12 as a head coach. From 2003 through 2007, Dorrell led the UCLA Bruins team to a 10-win season as well as a bowl game in each year.
With Colorado’s inability to consistently see postseason play since the turn of the century, this signing provides a chance to bring stable, albeit mild, success to the team.
His record during his time in LA was 35-27, but that was over a decade ago. The takeaway from this is he has shown the ability to win big games within the conference, but since his departure, he has only continued to grow his coaching resume.
What Does the Offense Look Like?
While bouncing around the game of football, Dorrell has mainly developed a West Coast offensive scheme. It is unclear whether he will fully implement this offense or continue down the path of Jay Johnson and Darrin Chiaverini’s offense. Those consisted of lots of three-wide, one-back sets with the quarterback primarily in the shotgun or pistol look.
Presumed starter Brendon Lewis brings more mobility than Colorado saw in the past. Putting him in a scheme that could maximize this could be beneficial. However, Colorado’s deepest part of the offense is the running back room. With that said, it may be safe to assume Dorrell incorporates a hybrid scheme that can move the quarterback around the pocket while still offering power sets.
Outside of pedigree and schemes, Dorrell brings one thing to the table that Colorado desperately needs in its current situation:
Karl Dorrell is home.
Here to Stay
Dorrell already owns a plot of land here in Colorado with his family and would return whenever he had a break from his NFL duties. Now, he returns to the state he loves full-time to bring it back to its former glory, and could not be happier. ‘Destination job’ is a term thrown around the college world to describe a program too prestigious to leave. Dorrell fully believes that Colorado is that program.
With him bringing his experience and staff to calm the waters in Boulder, as well as his belief in the future of his program, Colorado has a chance to return to its winning ways of old and become a household name in college football once more.
Where does this leave Colorado football?
Currently, the team is in a precarious, albeit optimistic, position. As of now, it still sits with a highly-ranked recruiting class as well as a roster without many question marks.
Dorrell wasted no time building his all-star coaching staff. He dove deep into the depths of his Rolodex from his long coaching history to bring in experienced men dedicated to furthering the success of their players, both on and off the field.
His staff is a combination of experienced leaders from across top programs. That includes names such as Taylor Embree. He’ll also be retaining guys familiar with Boulder to maintain its traditions, such as Darrin Chiaverini and Darian Hagan.
Now, the Buffaloes must work to convince fans, coaches, and recruits that the team will still be on schedule for bowl-eligibility in 2020. So far, it seems as though the Colorado faithful is itching to get back under the lights at Folsom Field, as Tucker’s departure has left many fans angry and ready for revenge. On top of that, it has also brought a new level of camaraderie across boundaries as players and fans alike have taken online to stick together.
No matter what happens next, the program will move forward. They’ll do so now with a chip on their shoulders bigger than their beloved mascot.