Karl Dorrell was hired as the new University of Colorado Boulder head football coach on Saturday. The Miami Dolphins’ assistant and wide receivers coach will be replacing Mel Tucker, who left the position on Feb. 11, as announced by CU on Sunday afternoon.
Dorrell served as the wide receivers coach at CU from 1992-1993 and the offensive coordinator from 1995-1998.
“I’m excited to be back, it’s like coming home,” Dorrell said. “The thing that excited me about this job is that my experience in the past here, for the most part, has been very successful. We had a lot of good teams, went to a lot of good bowl games. It’s a top-caliber program that has a lot of potential, and I’m excited to return it to that level.”
As recently as Thursday, the replacement of the head coaching position appeared to be a three-man race between Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun and New York Giants assistant Bret Bielema.
Following Sarkisian’s decision to stay at Alabama on Thursday, it seemed as if the Buffs were back to square one.
On Saturday afternoon, the coaching search took an unexpected turn. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports reported that Dorrell had emerged as a favorite for the position. Then, less than an hour later, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport confirmed Dorrell’s agreement to become the Buffaloes’ 27th full-time head football coach.
Dorrell is set to address the media on campus at CU on the morning of Monday, Feb. 24.
Athletic director Rick George has proposed a five-year $18 million deal for Dorrell, which is awaiting approval from the CU Board of Regents.
During Dorrell’s first season as wide receiver’s coach in 1992, Colorado won nine games and made an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl as a member of the Big Eight Conference. That same year, former Buff wideouts Michael Westbrook and Charles Johnson both recorded over 1,000 yards receiving, becoming just the fourth pair of receivers on the same team to eclipse that mark. Colorado posted a combined record of 17-5-2 during Dorrell’s initial stint with the Buffaloes.
Before returning to Colorado as an assistant, Dorrell served as the wide receivers coach for Arizona State in 1994. From 1995-1998, he was offensive coordinator and receivers coach at CU.
During that time, Dorrell directly oversaw Darrin Chiaverini, who, up until Sunday afternoon, held the title of interim head coach since Tucker’s resignation.
Dorrell’s familiarity with the Pac-12 conference, having coached at Colorado, Arizona State, Washington and UCLA prior to coaching in Miami, makes him a more appealing option for the Buffs. George spoke highly Dorrell in Colorado’s initial press release, published Sunday afternoon.
“I am excited that Karl Dorrell has agreed to become our head football coach,” George said. “Karl has had great success as a college coach, both as a head coach and an assistant, and he knows the Pac-12 Conference and West Coast well. It was important that our next coach have CU ties, and Karl has those ties having worked at CU twice previously. Karl shares my passion for Colorado and our vision for winning championships. He will be a tremendous mentor and role model for our student-athletes, and he will provide great leadership for our program going forward.”
Prior to serving as head coach of the Bruins, Dorrell made his NFL coaching debut in Denver, coaching the Broncos’ wide receivers from 2000-2002 under Mike Shanahan. Former Broncos’ wideout Rod Smith made two of his three career Pro Bowl appearances under Dorrell’s guidance.
As head coach of the Bruins from 2003-2007, UCLA went to five straight bowl games and Dorrell posted a 35-27 combined record over his five-year tenure.
After coaching at his alma mater, Dorrell moved back to the pros, making his second appearance in the NFL as a wide receivers coach, this time with Miami.
Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores promoted Dorrell to assistant from wide receivers coach on Feb. 20, just days before the 56-year-old accepted the job at Colorado. Dorrell will likely look to utilize his $3.8 million dollar assistant coach salary pool to hire the rest of his staff following his introduction.
When Tucker was hired in December 2018, his assistant coach salary pool was about $3.15 million.
A recent report indicated Dorrell is talking to former Denver Broncos quarterback coach T.C. McCartney about assuming a top assistant position at Colorado. The Broncos fired McCartney following their hiring of Pat Shurmur as offensive coordinator. McCartney helped coach first-year Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock through his rookie season.
The Buffaloes have now wrapped a 12-day search for their next head football coach. Dorrell will likely look to hit the ground running as spring football is set to begin in mid-March.