Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Walking into the home of a recruit or through the hallways of a high school is a normal part of the job for a college football coach.
This week, however, it’s been a bit unusual for Colorado’s coaches.
“You get a lot of double takes when you walk into a school because there’s a lot of people going, ‘I thought they just got fired. What are they doing here?'” CU co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Klayton Adams said.
No, Adams and the rest of CU assistants haven’t been fired, but they also know that their time with the Buffaloes could be short.
Colorado athletic director Rick George continues the process of finding a replacement for head coach Mike MacIntyre, who was fired Nov. 18. While the search continues, CU’s assistants are in limbo.
“The uncertainty is certainly there,” defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. “When you have a head coaching change, you usually have a lot of staff changes. I’m just kind of in limbo and just keep working hard in recruiting and developing the players until I’m told different.”
With national signing day coming up Dec. 19, there’s not a lot of time left to get the 2019 class signed. Despite not having a head coach in place, the Buffs’ assistants have to keep recruiting. While they may not be employed by CU a month from now, they are under contract for now, so they press on.
“We were just told to keep recruiting until they hire a (head) coach and after they hire a coach, we’ll meet with the coach and go from there,” Eliot said.
As usual for this time of year, CU’s assistants are spread out across the country on recruiting trips, and several high school prospects have posted photos on social media of themselves with CU assistants during home visits. The conversations on those visits are a bit different than normal, though.
“They want to know who the head coach is going to be, obviously,” co-offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini said.
Without an answer to that question, CU’s 2019 recruits have had to re-think their verbal commitments. Four players have de-committed since MacIntyre was fired. For now, 16 players have remained committed.
“That’s what you end up seeing when there’s kids that are at this point changing their mind or things are up in the air for them: now they probably need to figure out what part of it was really important for them,” Adams said. “Was the coach more important, or were the location and the school and all of that more important? Or was it all kind of rolled into one?”
So much of recruiting is based on relationships developed between coaches and players and their families. Not knowing if they will ever get a chance to coach the players they are recruiting has created a unique challenge for the staff.
“It’s kind of a not very typical situation and definitely one of the more interesting things I’ve done,” Adams said. “You really have to be very thoughtful about the things that you’re saying because it’s probably really weird for the recruits to hear some of it, but it’s almost like you’re recruiting as a third party a little bit. You say, ‘Hey, no matter what happens I still think CU is a great place to go to school.’
“It’s definitely a different angle than I’ve ever recruited from because a certain amount of recruiting is selling the people — the head coach and hopefully yourself as a position coach or yourself as the area recruiter. All of that gets taken out when you’re in that (uncertain) situation and you’re purely just selling Boulder, Colorado, and the University of Colorado.”
Despite the uncertainty of their own jobs, CU’s coaches said that selling Boulder, the university and the football program is the easy part.
“Colorado is a great place and those kids committed for a reason,” said Chiaverini, who played at CU from 1995-98. “They committed to the football program, but also the city of Boulder, the community, the University of Colorado. It’s a great place to go to school and I think the kids know that and that’s why they’re staying with the commitment, because it’s more than just football.”
Adams estimates that about 80 percent of the recruits he’s talked to are on board and understanding of the situation, but he added, “And, then there’s another percentage of kids that are like, ‘Hey this isn’t what I signed up for.'”
It’s not really what the coaches signed up for, either, but they also know the business. It may not be ideal to recruit for a school that might fire them in the next few weeks, but for now, they are under contract with CU, and many of the reasons they used to sell the school in the first place are still intact.
“Regardless of whether I’m here or not, I’d really like to see some of those offensive linemen come to the University of Colorado and become good players,” Adams said. “There’s a lot that’s invested in it on our part that isn’t necessarily wrapped into ourselves.
“I work at Colorado and I’m trying like hell to do as good a job as I can to get good players to go there.”