Throughout his career, Kurt Roper has worked with a lot of quarterbacks at several different schools.

After barely getting started with Colorado's quarterbacks, Roper has no idea if he'll get to continue working with the Buffaloes.

"Obviously it's not easy," he said after Saturday's 33-21 loss to California, which ended the Buffaloes' season at 5-7 (2-7 Pac-12).

CU athletic director Rick George fired head coach Mike MacIntyre on Nov. 18. While the rest of the staff — including Roper — is still employed by the Buffs, there is plenty of uncertainty about their futures.

Roper, hired as quarterbacks coach in January, took over as interim head coach last week but isn't sure if he'll be looking for another job in the next few weeks.

"It's kind of the lifestyle we chose, right?" he said. "While it's not easy and we all would like to be someplace for 30 years, it just doesn't work that way.

"There's nothing easy about it. This is a great place. The University of Colorado, like Rick George said, is a special place. It's a special university with a great history and this can be a destination job for anybody."

Several of CU's assistants have been on the job for only a year or two, and many of them have quickly grown to love the school and the area.

"We eventually want to retire here," linebackers coach Ross Els said. "I'd love to (stay at CU), but that's up to the powers that be."

CU's next head coach will make decisions on which assistants, if any, are retained.


In February, for the first time, CU was able to lock up its assistants with multi-year contracts. For the coaches, that offers some insurance in case they don't get jobs for next season. But, it doesn't make the uncertainty any easier to take.

"There's nothing easy about it," Roper said, "but it's probably harder on families than it is a coach. For a coach what ends up happening for the most part, you just start driving to a different office and doing the same thing. For families it's total change. You have to find a house, your wife has to find doctors and schools and babysitters. It's much harder on the families than it is a coach."

Kurt Roper took his position as interim head coach for Colorado in the regular season finale at Cal, but his status as well as that of the Buffs’
Kurt Roper took his position as interim head coach for Colorado in the regular season finale at Cal, but his status as well as that of the Buffs' other assistant coaches are very much in question moving forward. (Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer)

Els, who has moved his family three times since 2011, isn't looking forward to possibly moving again.

"That's part of our profession and we're paid well enough to understand that this could happen, but it is tough on the kids and the families," he said. "We'll all get other jobs somewhere, but the move is always hard."

As the players and coaches left the locker room at California Memorial Stadium on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif., there was a sense that the end was near — and some surprise that it happened so quick. This is a team that was 5-0 at one point before losing seven in a row.

"Certainly you don't expect it at any time, especially where we were," Els said. "It's a shock, but I have to hand it to our kids. They kept playing hard, we just didn't coach well enough, or didn't play well enough, whatever the case was in each game, but the kids just fought their tails off every game."

Els said he couldn't really pinpoint what went wrong, but said, "Now the new staff is going to have the opportunity to identify it and see what they can do to get it done."

If Roper doesn't come back to CU, he said he'll always enjoy the one year he had with the Buffs.

"That was a great group (as a team), but with the quarterback position, even more so than other positions, you sit in a room together so much and a relationship really develops," he said. "These guys care about being good quarterbacks, No. 1. They're talented. They're competitive but they knew how to manage a room while being competitive. It was just a lot of fun."

With the exception of tight ends coach Gary Bernardi, every other assistant coach, as well as strength and conditioning coach Drew Wilson, is under contract through at least the 2019 season. CU could owe the assistants nearly $4.4 million if they are all let go. That cost would be mitigated by any money they make if they get coaching jobs next year.

Several, if not all, of the assistants are likely to be coaching somewhere in 2019.

"I don't know anything else," Els said with a smile. "I'm not qualified for anything else."


The Pac-12 announced its players of the week on Monday, and two played against the Buffs: California's Ashtyn Davis (defense) and Steven Coutts (special teams). Washington's Myles Gaskin was the offensive player of the week.

Contact staff writer Brian Howell at or