Like just about everybody else involved with the Colorado football program, Darrin Chiaverini was stunned earlier this week when he learned that head coach Mel Tucker was leaving for Michigan State.
“I was just hurt because I’m a Buff and this is our school,” said Chiaverini, who served as Tucker’s assistant head coach and receivers coach this past season. “That hurt in that sense, but obviously coach Tucker did what he thought was best for him and his family.”
Chiaverini’s shock was quickly replaced with a determination to keep the Buffs going. After Tucker’s departure became official on Wednesday, Chiaverini was named the interim head coach and was asked to bring CU together through the transition.
“I’m a Buffalo and I love this institution, I bleed black and gold, and I’m here to support (the players) and support us and move us forward,’” Chiaverini said. “We can do that if we’re all committed to one common goal and that’s for us to be there for each other and be family.”
If all goes well, George and associate athletic director Lance Carl will have a permanent head coach named shortly – perhaps within a week or so – which means Chiaverini’s interim tag may not last long. In that time, he hopes to prove to his bosses and the players that he can lead CU for the long term.
Chiaverini, 42, who played at CU from 1995-98 and has spent the past four seasons on the coaching staff, is expected to get an interview for the full-time job.
In addition to Chiaverini, it has been reported that CU is looking at Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is the Buffs’ all-time leading rusher.
Other potential candidates include Oregon defensive coordinator Andy Avalos; Ohio State assistant head coach/running backs coach Tony Alford; Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian; and Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson.
Another intriguing option could be former UCLA head coach Jim Mora, who was fired toward the end of the 2017 season and has been in broadcasting since. Mora, who had a 46-30 record in six seasons at UCLA, spent part of his childhood in Boulder when his father as an assistant at CU. According to Buffzone sources, Mora loves Boulder and has a lot of interest in becoming the Buffaloes’ next head coach.
Perhaps nobody wants the job more than Chiaverini, though.
“This is the job; there is no other job (I want),” he said. “This is my dream job and I’ve never shied away from that answer. If I was given the opportunity to be the head coach at Colorado, I’ll be here for a very, very long time.”
Chiaverini has been in coaching for 13 years, the last six at the Power 5 level, with two years (2014-15) at Texas Tech before returning to Boulder in 2016. He spent his first three seasons at CU as co-offensive coordinator under head coach Mike MacIntyre.
“I think it has given me an opportunity (to be a head coach),” Chiaverini said of his career to this point. “At the end of the day, all I want is an opportunity and then I’ll go out there and prove it with what we do on the football field year in and year out.”
Named one of the nation’s top 25 recruiters by Rivals.com for three years in a row, Chiaverini could be integral in keeping CU’s solid 2020 recruiting class together, as well as providing some continuity with the current roster.
“I feel very, very strongly that, even though our record has been the same each of the last three years (5-7 each year) that our roster has improved each and every year,” Chiaverini said. “I truly believe that. You see that with guys who get drafted more often, guys get more national coverage. I think we have to continue to do that because I’m a firm believer if you continue to bring top talent in and then develop that top talent and bring them together and have a culture where everybody’s in it together and accountable to each other that you can win a lot of football games. I see that coming for us.”
Whether Chiaverini gets the opportunity to lead CU on a full-time basis remains to be seen. In the meanwhile, he’s doing his best to lead them in the short-term.
The coaches have continued to work every day on preparing a plan for spring football, which begins March 16, while being there for players.
“We’re doing our jobs,” Chiaverini said. “We need to be accountable to each other and to ourselves and we’re going to get through this and we’re going to be better for it when we come out the other end.
“This is a special place. We all believe in it. We know how special this place is and we’re going to do some very, very cool things here in the near future.”