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Colorado football notes: Buffs coming together amid coaching change

BOULDER, CO-August 6:Tommy Brown talks to ...
Tommy Brown talks to reporters during University of Colorado Boulder football media day on August 6, 2022.(Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Colorado’s Tommy Brown was with fellow offensive lineman Frank Fillip on Sunday when the phone rang.

“I know what this phone call is,” Fillip said to Brown.

Following Saturday’s 43-20 loss at Arizona, a defeat that dropped the Buffaloes to 0-5 (0-2 Pac-12), CU athletic director Rick George made the decision to fire head coach Karl Dorrell. Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford was named the interim head coach.

Fillip, in his fifth season at CU, has been through this before. The head coach that recruited him to Boulder, Mike MacIntyre, was fired with one game left in Fillip’s freshman season, in 2018.

In February of 2020, the players knew all the rumors about Mel Tucker being courted by Michigan State. Tucker eventually decided to leave for East Lansing, Mich.

Dorrell is the third head coach to be fired or resign since Fillip and several other players got to CU.

For Brown, it was a new experience. Prior to transferring to CU last winter, he spent four seasons at Alabama, where he played for one head coach, Nick Saban.

Whether this was a new experience or not, Brown said the entire team needs to rally together as the Buffs look ahead to the final seven games of the regular season. After a bye this week, they return to the field on Oct. 15 against California.

“I think it’s very important for a team to stay together in situations like this,” Brown said. “I mean, it sucks and we don’t want to be in this situation, but it’s a situation we’re in and I think us as players are learning to take responsibility for our actions. Coach Dorrell is an unbelievable man and we wish that we didn’t get his job taken from him. I’m taking it personally. I feel like I need to step up and do better. I hope that and I feel that most of my teammates are feeling the same way.”

This change is different from others CU has been through in recent years. With seven games to play, there is time to gain some positive momentum. In the team room, Sanford blacked out the first five games on the board and emphasized the “eight-game season” ahead for CU: seven in the regular season plus a bowl game, which although unlikely is still possible if the Buffs can get to six wins.

“I’m looking at it like we have an eight-game season, a fresh start and I’m ready to get this thing rolling,” senior defensive end Terrance Lang said.

Lang has been at CU since 2017 and has been through all the changes Fillip has experienced.

“It’s been a wild journey,” Lang said. “At this point, I’m grateful for every experience. I feel like I was able to learn something from each experience, so I try to turn it into a positive and just learn from it.”

Coaching changes

The three main changes this week were Sanford becoming interim head coach, Gerald Chatman the defensive coordinator and Clay Patterson the offensive coordinator.

In addition, Sanford announced Tuesday that Jeff Smart, a former CU linebacker who has been a quality control assistant, has been promoted to an on-the-field coaching spot and will work with the defense. Chris Reinert, the quality control assistant over special teams, has been elevated to the role of special teams coordinator.

Those moves allow the Buffs to have 10 full-time assistants again and gives them a full roster of coaches to go on the road recruiting this week.

Also, graduate assistant Nate Dodson will keep his GA role, but will work more with the quarterbacks to help Sanford.

Dorrell’s son, Chandler, is still with the program as the director of player personnel.

Logan dismissed

True freshman punter Ashton Logan was dismissed from the program last week by Dorrell for violating team rules.

During the first three games, Logan averaged 40.6 yards on 17 punts, with a net average of 34.4. He then missed the fourth game with an illness. True freshman walk-on Trent Carrizosa has punted the last two games, averaging 45.8 yards on 10 punts, with a 43.2 net average.


CU’s Oct. 15 game against Cal at Folsom Field has been slated for a Noon MT kickoff and will be televised by the Pac-12 Network. … CU coaches will go on the road recruiting Wednesday afternoon through Friday. … Sanford said tight end Brady Russell (ankle) and running back Alex Fontenot (chest) are “on the mend.” Russell missed Saturday’s game at Arizona, while Fontenot has missed the last three games. … Safety Isaiah Lewis missed the Arizona game with an undisclosed injury and Sanford was vague on Lewis’ status. “We’ll give you an update at a further time. You start getting to that mid-season time, there’s always those decisions that need to be made with regards to the future of a young man, so we’re not at a place to discuss that yet.” … Overall, Sanford said, “We’re actually getting healthier, which is exciting.”