Prior to this week, Jimmy Brumbaugh had never been to Boulder.
Chris Kapilovic once lived in Denver, but that was nearly four decades ago. Jay Johnson has been to Folsom Field as an enemy coach, but has no real ties to the area. Tyson Summers spent the 2015 season working in Fort Collins, but is Georgia born and raised.
Colorado’s new assistant football coaches may not have great connections to the Buffaloes, but they are all now bonded by the opportunity that has come their way.
On Thursday, the newest members of the coach staff all met with the media for the first time and all of them talked about embracing the chance to work at CU and for first-year head coach Mel Tucker.
“I always thought this was a neat place,” said Johnson, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who spent the past two years working at Georgia with Tucker. “It was evident to me that (Tucker) knows what he wants to do and how to run a program. To be a part of that and his personality and his family was very enticing to join.”
Summers, the defensive coordinator and safeties coach, worked closely with Tucker this past year at Georgia, but said he and his family were thrilled to come back to Colorado. Summers was the defensive coordinator at Colorado State in 2015.
“They were jumping up and down,” he said of his three sons, ages 5-10. “Having been to the state, having been to Boulder, it made everybody feel a lot more comfortable.”
Brumbaugh’s first visit to Boulder came this week and he was instantly wowed by the sight of the mountains. It was the opportunity to coach the Buffaloes’ defensive line that brought him, however.
“I’ve heard a lot about the tradition here and I’m excited to be here,” he said.
Kapilovic, 50, the Buffs’ offensive line coach, said he has great memories of living in Colorado when he was about 12 years old, and he said coaching at CU is a top-five destination for many in the profession.
“There’s places you work that are great football programs, but maybe aren’t the greatest places to live,” he said. “This, to me, is the whole package.”
As a group, they’ll team with Tucker to try to help the Buffaloes win, along with three assistants remaining with the staff: receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini, linebackers coach Ross Els and running backs coach Darian Hagan.
“You want to have a really good blend of experience and youth,” Tucker said. “Everyone is competent, but I think the diversity on the staff is huge. I love them to death. I feel very fortunate to have the staff that I have and we’re not done yet.”
As of Thursday, Tucker still has three full-time assistant positions to fill, but those may not be announced until after Christmas.
No time for rest
Since being announced as head coach on Dec. 6, Tucker has been busy with filling his staff, recruiting and other obligations. That hasn’t left much time for rest, but he’s OK with that.
“I sleep fast,” Tucker joked. “It’s not about sleep. I became really good friends with (Hall of Fame running back) Jim Brown when I was coaching for the Cleveland Browns. He told me he did not exhale until he retired. So, I’m not looking to exhale or get a breather anytime soon.”
Hit the ground running
Although Tucker and his staff got a late start on the class, Tucker said he didn’t feel behind in the process.
“I didn’t feel behind at all,” he said. “Being behind or in front is a state of mind. It is what it is. This is what we have to do, let’s be organized, let’s be focused and let’s get it done.”
Getting it done included evaluating the current roster to assess the needs in recruiting. Then, it was a matter of evaluating the recruits.
“That’s one of the first things we had to do was evaluate those guys,” Tucker said, “so you turn on the tape and it’s either thumbs up or thumbs down. Thumbs up, we go get him. It’s as simple as that. It didn’t take very long. These guys, you can see, you can watch 10 plays and know if they can help you or not.”
The Buffs have not signed a quarterback in this class and Tucker said it’s not a given they will add one. “Whoever can help our program win, whether it’s a quarterback or any other position,” he said. “We still have spots to fill and we’ll be very active.” … CU has set tentative dates for spring practices, starting March 18. The spring game is tentatively set for April 27.