About four months ago, Darrin Chiaverini was the Colorado Buffaloes’ receivers coach and he was wrapping up a successful 2020 recruiting class and preparing for spring football.
When he jumped on a Zoom meeting with local media on Wednesday, he couldn’t help but chuckle a bit when he said, “So, it’s been interesting in the last couple months, obviously.”
Since February, CU has lost head coach Mel Tucker (who bolted for Michigan State) and replaced him with Karl Dorrell; hired six new assistant coaches and promoted Chiaverini to offensive coordinator; and dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically impacted everyone in the country and caused sports to be cancelled and many in the world to work from home.
While the fate of the 2020 college football season is not yet known, CU is preparing to welcome players back for on-campus workouts on Monday with an eye towards the Sept. 5 opener against Colorado State and Chiaverini is itching to get rolling.
“We’ve had a lot of times to meet as an offense, go over installations, meet with our players,” he said. “We’ve been meeting with them (virtually) since March. And so I’m excited to get back to doing some football.
“You can only do so many meetings; you want to start practicing.”
Now working for his third head coach in the past three years at CU, Chiaverini is back in the offensive coordinator/play-caller role he had in 2018 under Mike MacIntyre. Tucker kept him on staff for 2019, but to coach receivers and as assistant head coach.
The transition from Tucker to Dorrell put Chiaverini’s future in limbo, but he’s now had more than three months to settle back into a coordinator role and get reacquainted with Dorrell – who was Chiaverini’s position coach at CU from 1995-98 – and get to know the new staff members.
“On Zoom I see them every day,” he said. “You’re getting to know their personalities, you’re getting to know what they like and what they don’t like but I really feel good about these guys and I feel good about where we’re at.”
In his recent interactions with media, Dorrell has expressed optimism for next season, despite CU coming off three consecutive 5-7 seasons and now dealing with myriad challenges, including trying to identify a new starter at quarterback. Chiaverini shares that mindset.
“I’m not panicked at all,” Chiaverini said. “I know we didn’t have a spring ball, but I really do have a good feel for this offensive roster. And I know what people’s strengths and people’s weaknesses are and we’re going to build it that way.
“We’ve got to find out who our quarterback is going to be, and they’re going to get a chance to compete, but I do know two of the three of them (senior Sam Noyer and junior Tyler Lytle) and Brendon Lewis, I was heavily involved in his recruiting and I feel good about our relationship, as well. I’m excited to get out there and compete with everybody else.”
In addition to Chiaverini, Dorrell retained running backs coach Darian Hagan on offense and both are going into their fifth season on the staff.
Chiaverini said he and quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf “hit if off right away” and he had high praise for tight ends coach Taylor Embree, who he said, “is going to be a really good young coach in this profession.” Offensive line coach Mitch Rodrigue has also joined the staff and brings a wealth of experience to the table.
Through it all, Chiaverini said he’s been able to help Dorrell in his transition not only back to CU, but back to college football. Since his only other head coaching job, at UCLA from 2003-07, Dorrell has spent 11 of the past 12 seasons in the NFL; the lone exception being 2014 when he was offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt.
“Me and coach Dorrell have a really good relationship,” Chiaverini said. “Even though we’ve never coached together, I think there’s a trust factor there. We talk about a lot of things: about the program, about recruiting. Things have changed a lot since he was in college football in 2007, so I think it’s important that we’re all on the same page.
“(We) have a lot of good conversations and we talk about things daily. I think it’s been a good transition for him, considering everything that’s been going on with his coronavirus situation and not really being able to be hands-on with the team.”
All-in-all, it’s been a good transition for Chiaverini, too. He had mixed results as a play-caller in 2018, but is eager to prove himself again and help the Buffs find success in what has been an interesting period of time.
“I don’t shy away from criticism, and I’m going to keep fighting and we’re going to be better this year, I know that,” he said.
On social media, Chiaverini has actively supported the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racial injustice. On Wednesday, he explained why.
“I grew up in this game, and I grew up around a lot of black players, and a lot of them are my best friends,” he said. “I think it was important for me to say something to show them that not only do I support them but I believe in this. It’s right versus wrong. If I can be there for them and show them that I support them and that black lives matter – they do – and that I’m supporting that movement as well, I think it’s going to bring us all closer together. … This is not about anything else but speaking up for social injustice and doing what’s right in our society.”