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CU Buffs set to name Karl Dorrell as head football coach

Dorrell had two prior stints as assistant coach at Colorado

Karl Dorrell is reportedly taking the head coaching job with the CU Buffs.
Courtesy photo/South Florida Sun Sentinel
Karl Dorrell is reportedly taking the head coaching job with the CU Buffs.

On Thursday, Karl Dorrell got a promotion with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins.

On Saturday, he got a new job.

BuffZone has confirmed through multiple sources that Dorrell has accepted an offer to become the head football coach at Colorado, replacing Mel Tucker, who left the Buffs on Feb. 12 after one season on the job to take over the program at Michigan State.

CU has yet to confirm that Dorrell has been hired, but it had been reported by several national outlets and then confirmed by BuffZone.

CU athletic director Rick George and associate athletic director Lance Carl have been tight-lipped throughout CU’s 10-day search for Tucker’s replacement. Saturday was the first time that Dorrell’s name had come up in the search.

Dorrell, 56, will become the 27th full-time head coach in CU history. The head coach at UCLA from 2003-07, Dorrell was the Dolphins’ receivers coach last year and on Thursday was promoted to assistant head coach.

Now, he becomes CU’s fifth head coach in the last 10 years and he will try to do what the previous four failed to do in turning the Buffs into a consistent winner.

Dan Hawkins (2006-10), Jon Embree (2011-12), Mike MacIntyre (2013-18) and Tucker (2019) led CU to a combined one winning season in 14 years.

Tucker guided the Buffs to their third consecutive 5-7 season last fall. The Buffs have been to just one bowl game in the last 12 seasons, matching Kansas for the worst among Power 5 conference teams. The other 62 Power 5 teams have been to at least three bowls in the past 12 years.

Although not on the media radar during CU’s search, Dorrell has strong ties to the Buffs and has enjoyed success in Boulder.

Dorrell was the Buffs’ receivers coach in 1992-93 under Bill McCartney, helping the Buffs to a 17-5-2 record and two bowl appearances.

After spending the 1994 season coaching the receivers at Arizona State, he returned to CU and worked as offensive coordinator/receivers coach from 1995-98 under head coach Rick Neuheisel. In those seasons, the Buffs went 33-14 with three bowl games.

During Dorrell’s first two seasons as Buffs’ coordinator, 1995-96, Carl was on the staff as a graduate assistant, working with Dorrell in coaching the receivers.

In 1999, Dorrell followed Neuheisel to Washington and worked for three years (2000-02) as the receivers coach for the Denver Broncos.

In 2003, the former UCLA receiver was hired as the head coach at his alma mater and spent five seasons with the Bruins, going 35-27 with five bowl appearances. His best season came in 2005, when he led the Bruins to a 10-2 record.

Dorrell was fired by UCLA at the end of the 2007 regular season, one day after the Bruins accepted a bid to the Las Vegas Bowl. He did not coach in the bowl game.

Since being fired by UCLA, Dorrell has spent 11 of the last 12 seasons in the NFL, working for the Dolphins (2008-11, 2019), Houston Texas (2012-13) and New York Jets (2015-18). He has primarily coached receivers, but coached quarterbacks with the Dolphins in 2011 and with the Texas in 2012-13.

During the 2014 season, Dorrell was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Vanderbilt, but was fired at the end of the season.

When Dorrell was offensive coordinator at CU from 1995-98, one of his receivers was Darrin Chiaverini. The current Buffs’ interim head coach, Chiaverini interviewed for the head coaching position this week. Chiaverini has spent the past four seasons on the Buffs’ coaching staff, working under MacIntyre and Tucker.

Dorrell’s daughter, Lauren, played for the CU volleyball team from 2016-18 before transferring to Auburn last year.