Given the keys to the Colorado offense a year ago, Darrin Chiaverini could not have been more excited.
Having those keys taken away after one season wasn't exactly what he had in mind, but as Chiaverini prepares for his fourth season on the CU coaching staff, his goal remains the same: win football games.
Chiaverini, who played receiver at CU from 1995-98, spent the past three seasons as co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach for previous head coach Mike MacIntyre. Last year, he was given play-calling duties.
Following a disappointing 5-7 season in 2018, which included a seven-game losing streak to end the year, MacIntyre was fired. Chiaverini was one of just three assistants retained by new head coach Mel Tucker — along with running backs coach Darian Hagan and linebackers coach Ross Els — although he will have a different role.
With Jay Johnson hired as offensive coordinator and play-caller, Chiaverini will focus solely on coaching receivers (as well as retaining his role as recruiting coordinator). While it is a demotion from his coordinator role, Chiaverini said CU is where he wants to coach.
"I'm excited to be a Buff," he said. "I'm a Buff for life and obviously getting a chance to be retained and be on coach Tucker's staff, I'm really excited. I'm excited to work with coach Johnson.
"It's a different role, but I'm a football coach and I can adjust to anything. I'm excited to be here and help those guys."
With Chiaverini calling plays last season, the Buffs finished eighth in the Pac-12 in scoring, at 27.1 points per game. That's the second-best ranking for CU since it joined the Pac-12 in 2011, but certainly not what the Buffs had in mind.
Five games into the season, the Buffs were undefeated and averaging 37.8 points per game with one of the Pac-12's most explosive offenses. During the seven-game losing streak, the Buffs averaged 19.4 points, prompting MacIntyre to refer to the offense as inept.
As Chiaverini looks ahead to next season, he has no doubt the Buffs can be more like they were early in 2018.
"We're close," he said. "If people watched us last year, they saw us play at a high level early and then we had some injuries that hurt us a little bit, but I think we're close. I don't think we're that far off."
CU has some weapons to work with, including quarterback Steven Montez, receivers Laviska Shenault, KD Nixon, Tony Brown, and more.
"I like the offensive talent that we have on our roster," Chiaverini said. "We've done a good job of recruiting some good young players."
Many of the weapons were recruited to CU by Chiaverini, and he is determined to continue increasing the talent level in Boulder.
"With coach Tucker, we're going to go after the best of the best," Chiaverini said. "At Colorado, that's what we need to do. I think we have to be aggressive on the top players in the country. Get them on campus and develop relationships with them when they're younger in high school and keep those relationships going through their junior and senior year and get them to Boulder.
"I think coach Tucker is aggressive. He and I are a lot alike."
To this point, coaches have not spent a lot of time together, because of recruiting and the holidays, but Chiaverini is confident he can work well with Tucker and Johnson.
"They're both really good people" Chiaverini said. "When you don't win, at the end of the season, there's going to be changes and I understand that. My job is to help coach Johnson and help coach Tucker."
While his job — and many of co-workers — are different than last year, Chiaverini said he will continue to be motivated by his desire to succeed.
"I think as a coach, you're self-motivated, just as I was as a player," he said. "I never needed anybody to push me as a player and I don't need anybody to push me as a coach. I'm going to work hard, do my job and I'm going to support coach Tucker and support coach Johnson. I'm going to continue to coach my position at a high level and continue to bring top players to Colorado. That's my role right now and I'm going to do the best I can at it."