Colorado is making a big mistake hiring Karl Dorrell over Darrin Chiaverini

Darrin Chiaverini, Colorado Buffaloes. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport
Darrin Chiaverini, Colorado Buffaloes. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport /

The Colorado Buffaloes are going with Miami Dolphins wide receivers coach Karl Dorrell over interim head coach Darrin Chiaverini. They’re making a mistake.

Karl Dorrell is not the answer Colorado football is looking for.

The last few weeks have been nightmarish for Colorado in the wake of Mel Tucker leaving for the Michigan State Spartans job upon Mark Dantonio‘s sudden retirement. His Michigan State hiring came shortly after National Signing Day, putting a struggling Pac-12 team in an even tougher spot.

Colorado could have replaced Tucker with NFL and college coaches of great notoriety. Instead of paying a premium to land former Colorado great and current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, Eric Bieniemy, the Buffaloes are reportedly going with the Miami Dolphins’ wide receivers coach.

As with Bieniemy, Dorrell was on Colorado’s coaching staff twice. He was the wide receivers coach from 1992-1993. After a year away in 1994, he returned to Boulder on a four-year stint as the Buffaloes’ offensive coordinator from 1995-1998. Best known as a slightly better than .500 head coach with the UCLA Bruins in the mid-2000s, Dorrell’s hiring is clearly a reach into the past.

Colorado may have wanted a program builder with ties to the university, but he hasn’t coached in Boulder since the Clinton Administration. Didn’t Colorado already have a former player running the team in the interim in wide receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini?

Colorado should have removed the interim tag and named Chiavarini the head coach.

After a seven-year pro career, including four in the NFL, Chiaverini went into coaching after his playing career ended. Before coming back to his alma mater in 2016, Chiaverini worked at UCLA and Texas Tech. He has led special teams units, coached receivers throughout, co-coordinated Colorado’s offense and has led its recruiting program.

He is Colorado football.

Chiaverini was already in-house and has been a college football coach since 2007. After Dorrell’s last season leading UCLA in that same year, he has coached in the college game only once. That was with the 2014 Vanderbilt Commodores, who ranked 119 out of 128 in points per game with 17.2.

No, having Dorrell and Chiaverini as the faces of Colorado football aren’t mutually exclusive entities. Chiaverini only occupied the spot in the interim and should stay on Dorrell’s staff as his top assistant coach. While they have a passion for coaching wide receivers and could theoretically work well together, hiring Dorrell basically means Colorado doesn’t believe Chiaverini is ready to be a head coach.

It’s a fair evaluation considering he has no head coach experience, but this was the perfect time for him to get the experience. Dorrell was basically hired to be fired in two years.

Colorado should have let Chiaverini coach in 2020 on an interim basis, especially after Bieniemy and Steve Sarkisian passed. If it wasn’t meant to be with Chiaverini, then Colorado could have entered the 2021 coaching carousel earlier than mid-February.

Make no mistake, this was a less-than-ideal scenario for Colorado but they made things worse with the reported hire of Dorrell. Chiaverini would have kept the program on track, recruiting would have remained constant and he wouldn’t have embarrassed the program on or off the field.

Though there is a chance it could work with him in Boulder, opting to go with Dorrell feels more like a Mountain West move than Colorado would ever want to admit. The Buffaloes weren’t going to a Pac-12 contender this season anyway. This was Chiaverini’s opportunity to make the most of a trying situation. It’s a shame he didn’t really get a fair crack at this.

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