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Let’s embrace the oddity of Colorado’s coaching hire

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Hey, it might work fine, and if not, we get to bring some nostalgia into the modern college football internet.

University of Colorado photo. Banner Society illustration.

Each person who heard the news of Colorado replacing Mel Tucker as head coach with Karl Dorrell responded with one of two things:

  1. That Karl Dorrell?
  2. Who is Karl Dorrell?

Those answers are “yes” and “the coach fired by UCLA in 2007 after four six-loss seasons in five years and whose only college stint since was one year at Vanderbilt.” The highlight: knocking USC out of the 2006 title game by scoring 13 points.

The Buffaloes were desperate, having been turned down by alum Eric Bieniemy and others with spring ball looming. So they heaved a $3.6 million salary at someone who has spent the majority of this millennium as an assistant in the AFC East, and not in the good part.

It might work, sure, to whatever degree a Colorado football thing can be said to work. All coaching carousels are random tenure generators. Throw some money at somebody and see what happens! Either way, now a coach from just before the CFB internet truly became a thing gets to be a part of it.

The fun thing to think about is this: what if it kinda does work? Then we have a trend of two, which is all the evidence anyone should need to go all in.

Ed Orgeron was also fired in 2007. Despite a couple impressive interim jobs, LSU hiring him as full-time head coach was still considered crude Louisiana fanservice. Ah, another SEC West gruntballer who’ll try forever to out-gruntball Nick Saban. At Ole Miss, he’d already proved everything about himself. You can go back and find people confident in these things.

Well, it worked, they would all now agree.

“Karl Dorrell, national champion, Colorado Buffaloes” isn’t really what I’m saying. And we all rightly mock the NFL for its lazy river of hiring, as one fired guy just bobs along to the next job.

Mainly, I’m imagining this trend meaning we get to explain names like these to the next generation of college football fans:

  • Jeff Bower: While helming Southern Miss, also drafted J.R. Smith to the New Orleans Hornets. (Some people say there are two Jeff Bowers, so be safe and hire them both.)
  • Bill Callahan: Since pro-styling Nebraska, has had to work for Woody Johnson, Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, and Jimmy Haslam. Has he not served his sentence?
  • Bill Doba: Led Wazzu to a win over Vince Young in a bowl game and therefore is a better coach than Pete Carroll or Lloyd Carr.
  • Dennis Franchione: Save on sports information staffing by just having him run a secret newsletter on his own team for profit, as he did at Texas A&M.
  • Chan Gailey: Lost five or six games in all six seasons at Georgia Tech. That’ll usually get you an NFC #4 seed.
  • Jeff Jagodzinski: So coveted by the NFL, Boston College fired him over it. Also oversaw what was probably the only top-10 season by BC in your lifetime.
  • Chuck Long: If I’m not mistaken, the Cal Poly Mustangs have two all-time wins over FBS teams, both against Long’s San Diego State. Let’s focus more on Long’s tenure with the XFL’s St. Louis BattleHawks.
  • Sonny Lubick: Colorado State has won six conference titles since 1955, all by Lubick. Also, someone will give you $20 million to name your field after him.
  • Hal Mumme: Is Mike Leach, minus the shitposting.
  • Ted Roof: Responsible for a national championship defense at Auburn. Yep, definitely was his defense that did it.
  • Ty Willingham: Got Duke football mentioned in official College Football Playoff committee documentation. Technically this was only because the Blue Devils were on Willingham’s list of schools he couldn’t help rank due to personal ties, but you try getting it done any other way.
  • And so on! Let’s get Mike Shula and Chuck Amato back in here!

Head coaches, all of them, who’ve barely or never again been head coaches since being let go within a year of Orgeron and Dorrell. Names we largely haven’t heard in a long, long time, unless we are devoted to the XFL.

Wouldn’t it be great if all these pre-meme guys got to coach in the memes era? Today’s teens should know more about Boston College apparently believing itself to be an NFL job and Calvin Johnson having to play for Gailey’s 7-5 factory and Franchione’s side hustle in journalism.

Maybe we left some great material on the table during their tenures. Heck, Philip Fulmer’s in this Floating Since Like 2007 club, and he’s always one step away from finding out.