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Dorrell turns over staff in effort to turn around Colorado

NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado

Nov 20, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Karl Dorrell before the game against the Washington Huskies at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

BOULDER, Colo.- From the conference room overlooking the snow-covered turf at Folsom Field, Colorado coach Karl Dorrell lamented a season without a bowl appearance.

Hence, the recent shakeup.

Gone are five assistant coaches, including offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini. Dorrell may not have any control over the recent Buffaloes entering the transfer portal - including receiver Brenden Rice, the son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice - but he can do something about his staff after a 4-8 season.

“I think I treat the coaching side just as much as the player side as to, when you come off of a disappointing year, I don’t believe in just being status quo going into the next season,” Dorrell said as he and athletic director Rick George gave a state-of-the-program address Thursday. “I wanted to make, with Rick’s endorsement, the necessary changes for us to be better as a staff in coaching our players so that we can get a better product on the field.”

The Buffaloes had a strong recruiting class - 46th, according to 247Sports - but also saw quite a few names enter the transfer portal. Among them: Rice, who had 21 catches for 299 yards and three TDs last season.

Just part of the territory these days in navigating college football’s changing landscape.

“It’s like, `What’s behind door No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3?’ You open that door and you’re losing this player, or something like that, that’s usually unexpected,” Dorrell said. “We have to go into this really with a level head.”

Dorrell was more diplomatic about the transfer portal’s role in college football than George, who was recently on a “name, image and likeness” working group before they stopped meeting. While some players may be entering the portal for reasons concerning playing time, others may enter to explore potential NIL deals.

George’s suggestion is more guidelines.

“We have a framework that would have been good sitting on a shelf somewhere,” George said, referring to his work with the NIL committee. "... I don’t think the NCAA is performing their role. And to allow the NIL to get out of hand like it’s gotten, is not acceptable. We as an industry have to embrace getting this back together so we have some guidelines that are consistent across our industry.”

Almost like the Wild, Wild West these days?

“It’s complex,” George said. “I would say it’s more chaos, would be the word that I would use.”

One word George would use to describe the season would be “disappointed,” especially after going to the Alamo Bowl in Dorrell’s first season in charge.

“We had high expectations and we’ll continue to have those,” said George, who hired Dorrell nearly two years ago after the departure of Mel Tucker to Michigan State.

Among the new coaching hires was Mike Sanford to oversee the offense. Sanford arrived from Minnesota, where he served as the Gophers’ offensive coordinator and QB coach for the past two seasons.

Sanford will have a quarterback room that includes Brendon Lewis, who took his lumps last season but gained precious experience. The Buffaloes also have J.T. Shrout, who missed the season after hurting his knee and recruited Owen McCown, the son of longtime NFL QB Josh McCown. They added a transfer in Maddox Kopp, who spent his freshman season at the University of Houston.

“He (Sanford) has had a pretty good track record developing a quarterback,” Dorrell said. “Every place he’s been he’s had a quarterback or two that’s had opportunities to play in the NFL, that have done some really positive things. So what I was looking for was a developer, a guy that can mold a roster into having success.”

Dorrell did like this in his team: An encouraging finish (2-2 in November) after a 2-6 start.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, we didn’t perform at a level that we all expect to have this program be at,” Dorrell said. “But we played with a lot of freshmen and sophomores and redshirt freshmen ... They’re excited about where we’re headed.”

NOTES: Among the other Colorado coaching hires were offensive line coach Kyle DeVan, defensive line coach Vic So’oto and cornerbacks coach Rod Chance. ... Colorado is collecting gift cards at upcoming basketball games to be distributed to victims of the Marshall fire. The Buffs are also donating $5 for every ticket sold to men’s and women’s basketball games to emergency relief efforts.