Tad Boyle admits he never got to know Karl Dorrell.
Their programs operate across campus from one another, with Boyle’s basketball offices in the CU Events Center and the football program housed in the Champions Center. They met when Dorrell was introduced as CU’s head coach in February 2020. But the onset of the COVID pandemic weeks later kept the two most prominent coaches on campus from crossing paths for months.
So while it wasn’t a farewell to a close friend and coaching confidant for Boyle after athletic director Rick George announced Dorrell’s firing on Sunday, Boyle said on Monday that sort of dramatic personnel move will always send a jolt through any athletic department.
“The one unfortunate thing about the Colorado athletic department is we’re not in the same building. So I don’t get to know the football coach or the staff as much as I’d like to,” Boyle said. “I know Karl. I know his wife Kim. I think the world of him, but it’s not like we spent a lot of time together. But that’s been the case with every football coach here. I did probably a better job when I first got here to go out of my way to get to know those guys.
“I feel bad for Karl and his staff. It’s a very unforgiving business.”
Boyle’s tenure — arguably the most successful in the history of Colorado men’s basketball — has coincided with a historically low era of CU football. This season marks Boyle’s 13th fall on campus, and during that time CU has employed five full-time head coaches in Dan Hawkins, Jon Embree, Mike MacIntyre, Mel Tucker and Dorrell. On Oct. 15, the Buffs’ first game after a bye, Mike Sanford will be the third interim coach during Boyle’s tenure to lead CU on game day (also Brian Cabral in 2010 and Kurt Roper in 2018).
While Boyle sports a .623 winning percentage (just decimals behind Forrest B. Cox’s program record of .623) and is closing in on Sox Walseth’s CU men’s basketball mark of 261 coaching wins (Boyle has 254), that lengthy list of CU football coaches posted a .354 winning percentage during that span (52-95).
Although the men’s basketball program has been more successful by leaps and bounds over the past 12-plus years, even Boyle concedes a successful football program would bolster the excitement surrounding his own squad.
“I’m a huge college football fan. I go to every game. I tailgate,” Boyle said. “We bring in kids for recruiting visits. One thing I’ll say about the CU fan base, you go down to the Stampede on Friday night, fantastic atmosphere. Great energy. Great school spirit. Very impressive to the recruits and families we bring in. Then you take them to a game on Saturday and they see the tailgating atmosphere. They see the student section full. They see the energy that’s in the stadium and they can see that’s hopefully going to translate to basketball.
“For the most part, it has. But when our football team is not successful, it’s a little bit deflating I think to the student body. Which I think naturally will bleed over into basketball. Whereas if the football team is rocking and rolling, when you roll into basketball season, there’s some momentum.”