Like most followers of Colorado football, Mike Moschetti was stunned on Saturday.
Throughout CU’s 10-day search for a head football coach, dozens of names were thrown out as potential candidates. Karl Dorrell was not one of them.
Yet, on Saturday, it was reported by several national outlets and then confirmed by BuffZone that Dorrell will, indeed, become the Buffaloes’ new head coach. CU has yet to confirm or announce the hire, but is expected to either Sunday or Monday.
Moschetti, who quarterbacked the Buffs from 1998-99, was surprised but happy that his former offensive coordinator would take the reins of the program.
“Absolutely shocked, but also excited,” Moschetti said. “Karl was on the staff that recruited me and I’ve been around Karl. I’ve been in the meetings with him. He’s a real stoic and disciplined and detail-oriented guy that kind of took a bad rap for some reason at UCLA because he’s not a gimmick guy. He’s not a rah-rah guy. He’s a hard-nosed, old-school football coach.”
Dorrell had two stints as an assistant at CU, coaching receivers in 1992-93 and then as offensive coordinator/receivers coach from 1995-98.
Dorrell’s only head coaching experience came at his alma mater, UCLA, from 2003-07. He went 35-27 with five bowl appearances in five years and at the time he was fired was praised by athletic director Dan Guerrero, who said, “He established stability, established a solid foundation and dealt with the infrastructure issues that had occurred in our program at that time.”
However, Dorrell didn’t win as much as Guerrero wanted. At that time, Dorrell’s Bruins were trying to compete not only nationally, but within Los Angeles, with the Pete Carroll dynasty at Southern California. During Dorrell’s five years at UCLA, USC went 57-6 with two national titles and four Rose Bowl appearances.
Since 1989, Dorrell is the only coach to take UCLA to bowl games in five consecutive seasons.
Since being fired by UCLA, Dorrell has spent 11 of the past 12 years coaching in the NFL and his one year in college football, 2014, didn’t go well. He was hired as offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt, but was fired at the end of the season after the Commodores ranked 119th nationally in scoring, at 17.2 point per game. Vandy was the only team in the country to start four different quarterbacks that season.
Throughout his career, however, Dorrell has coached elite players.
CU had never had a receiver reach 1,000 yards in a season until 1992, when Dorrell coached both Charles Johnson (1,149 yards) and Michael Westbrook (1,060 yards) to that milestone. It is still the only time in CU history that two receivers have hit the mark in the same season.
Johnson reached 1,000 yards again in 1993. From 1995-98 at CU, Dorrell coached two-time 1,000-yard receiver Rae Carruth.
During his six total seasons at CU, Dorrell coached seven players who rank among the top 20 in school history for catches: Westbrook (fourth, 167 catches, 2,548 yards); Phil Savoy (sixth, 152 for 2,176); Javon Green (10th, 136 for 2,031); Carruth (11th, 135 for 2,540); Johnson (13th, 127 for 2,447); Daniel Graham (16th, 106 for 1,543) and Darrin Chiaverini (19th, 97 for 1,199).
Dorrell also worked with CU quarterbacks Kordell Stewart, Koy Detmer, John Hessler and Moschetti.
With the Broncos, Dorrell coached receivers Rod Smith and Ed McCaffrey. He’s also coached Robby Anderson, Ted Ginn Jr., Jermaine Kearse and Brandon Marshall. Under Dorrell’s tutelage, Miami’s DeVante Parker led all AFC wide receivers in yards last season, with 1,202.
In a story by the Palm Beach Post this week, Dorrell was asked how gets the most out if players.
“The biggest key is confidence,” he told the Post. “You have to build confidence in a player. And I think the best way to build confidence is really have a pretty strong intention about developing a player. And when a player feels that way about you in terms of your time and investment in him, it seems to reciprocate.”
Moschetti has no doubt that Dorrell will invest time in developing the Buffs he will now coach.
“He knows Colorado’s tradition, he knows how tough it is to recruit to Boulder, which a lot of people don’t understand with the academics at the University of Colorado ,and he’s been in the NFL for a long time,” Moschetti said. “I think he’s learned a lot. He’s the type of guy that’s going to learn from the mistakes that he made at UCLA.
“Karl is a guy that has integrity. He’s not going to get in trouble, he’s going to make sure his players graduate and he’s going to win. I think he’s grown as a coach in the NFL.”
Although shocked by the choice, Moschetti said he trusts the decision by athletic director Rick George and associate athletic director Lance Carl.
“They’re smart guys, they know what they’re looking for and they ended up doing what they feel is best for the University of Colorado,” he said. “Karl is going to put a product on the field that the University of Colorado, the administrators and the fans are going to be proud of.”