CU Buffs fire offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini – The Denver Post

Following one of the worst seasons on offense in recent Colorado football history, head coach Karl Dorrell is making a big change.

On Sunday, Dorrell announced that offensive coordinator/receivers coach Darrin Chiaverini has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Chiaverini, a former CU receiver, has been on staff for six seasons.

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“This was a very tough decision, especially with Darrin being a former player and knowing how much he truly cares about the program,” Dorrell said in a press release.  “I do appreciate all the time and investment he put in being in the positions he’s been in over the last six years.

“I believe it’s just time to go in a different direction. We need a new perspective, which can bring new life and a different energy along with it.  In the end, we need to do what’s best for the program, and at the same time, certainly wish Darrin the best in his future endeavors.”

Originally hired on Jan. 1, 2016, Chiaverini had one year left on a three-year contract he signed in 2020. Per the terms of the deal, CU will pay Chiaverini the remainder of his base and supplemental salary – more than $650,000 – through the end of the agreement, which expires Feb. 14, 2023. The buyout can be mitigated if Chiaverini is hired for another coaching job next season.

Shortly after news broke of his firing, Chiaverini posted on social media: “Buff Nation I want to say thank you for the last 6 years!! Spending over 10 years as a player and as a coach has been a blessing. I will always be a Buff and no matter where my career takes our family I will bleed Black and Gold!! The Pride and Tradition of the Colorado Buffaloes will not be entrusted to the timid or the weak!!!”

The decision to fire Chiaverini comes two days after Friday’s 28-13 loss at Utah in the season finale. The Buffs’ offense finished that game with 148 yards no touchdowns. It was the fourth game this season under 200 yards and the third without any offensive touchdowns.

Friday’s loss capped what was a historically bad offense for CU (4-8, 3-6 Pac-12).

The Buffs averaged 257.6 yards per game – the program’s lowest total since 1964 and the worst average for any Power 5 program since 2014. CU also finished with a scoring average of 18.8 points. Arizona, at 17.2, was the only Pac-12 team to score fewer points.

CU’s scoring average, which was boosted by four touchdowns on defense/special teams – was the third-lowest for the program since 1984 (17.8 in 2012, 16.3 in 2006).

This season, CU was held to 14 points or less in six of its 12 games and the Buffs have scored 23 or less in 12 of the last 16 games, dating back to last season.

“It’s been challenging,” Dorrell said after the loss to Utah. “A number of players playing and we have to continue to bring these guys forward and make improvements week after week after week. That’s where my disappointment is that I felt like there’s been good weeks where we’ve shown signs of that, but then weeks that we’ve kind of … not necessarily took a step back, but we didn’t make much growth at all. So we have to be better there. We have to be better.”

There were a number of issues that went into CU’s struggles on offense, including a freshman, first-time starter at quarterback (Brendon Lewis). The Buffs also struggled mightily on the offensive line, to the point of firing line coach Mitch Rodrigue after seven games. And, injuries and a suspension depleted the receiving corps at times.

“That’s been a challenging part of this scenario the whole season is with playing with a young quarterback that did get better over the course of the season,” Dorrell said. “But how much better could he have gotten? There’s a lot of disappointment that I have right now with that, with how the lack thereof has been for most of the year.”

Through it all, it has been Chiaverini calling plays. Of CU’s 135 offensive possessions, 47 (34.8 percent) went three-and-out and nearly half of the possessions (66) ended with punts.

The Buffs did set a school record by scoring on 93.9 percent of their trips to the red zone (31-of-33, with 20 touchdowns), but only nine teams in the country got to the red zone fewer times.

Looking to spark the offense for next season, the Buffs will move on from Chiaverini, whom Dorrell coached at CU from 1995-98. With Dorrell as his position coach, Chiaverini caught 97 passes for 1,199 yards and six touchdowns for the Buffs.

A team captain as a senior, Chiaverini was a popular player who was the first recipient of the Buffalo Heart Award, voted on by fans, in 1998. He was a part of three bowl-winning teams with the Buffs.

After his time at CU, Chiaverini was a fifth-round draft choice of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. He played professionally for eight years (1999-2006), before he got into coaching in 2007.

Chiaverini worked his way up the ranks, getting his first full-time Power 5 job at Texas Tech in 2014. He spent two seasons as the special teams coordinator/outside receivers coach for the Red Raiders.

Former CU head coach Mike MacIntyre hired Chiaverini as co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach on Jan. 1, 2016, and it’s been a roller-coaster ride over the past six seasons.

Under MacIntyre, Chiaverini was co-coordinator for three years, from 2016-18. After co-offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren left for Oregon State, Chiaverini took over play-calling duties in 2018.

Five games into the 2018 season, the Buffs were 5-0 and averaging 37.8 points per game. From that point, the Buffs went 0-7 while averaging 19.4 points. That freefall led to MacIntyre being fired with one game to play.

When Mel Tucker was hired as head coach in December of 2018, he chose to keep Chiaverini on staff but demoted him to receivers coach.

Tucker left CU after just one season, in February of 2020, and Chiaverini put his hat in the ring to replace him. While Chiaverini did get an interview for the head coaching job, CU chose Dorrell instead. Dorrell kept Chiaverini on staff as offensive coordinator.

Chiaverini energized CU’s recruiting efforts when he was originally hired and played a role in recruiting several players to Boulder.

During Chiaverini’s time on the staff, he coached four receivers who rank in the top nine in CU history for career catches (Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo, Laviska Shenault and Devin Ross). He has also worked with the top two passers in program history (Steven Montez and Sefo Liufau).

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