If CU Buffs fire Karl Dorrell then Phil DiStefano, Rick George should be next to go

Don’t fire Karl Dorrell, Todd Saliman.

Fire everybody.

If Saliman, the CU president who lost the ‘interim’ tag earlier this year, is serious about getting Buffs football — the university’s front porch — in order, he needs to start at the top.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano, whose loyalty to the Pac-12 and fealty to the Pac-12 Network has chained CU and its fans to a pair of sinking yachts?

Gone. Thank you for your service.

Athletic director Rick George, who green-lit handing the keys to Dorrell when literally no other Power 5 program would? Who negotiated a contract that cost Michigan State $3 million to snap up Mel Tucker but could require CU to fork over at least twice that — $8-$9 million — to cut ties with Dorrell before the end of this 0-5 football season?

Also gone. And also, thank you.

There are a dozen reasons to bail on The Dorrell Era before things get any worse. A handful were on execrable display in Tucson late Saturday during the Buffs’ 43-20 drubbing at the hands of Arizona. An Arizona bunch CU pummeled 34-0 at Folsom Field a year ago.

Jayden de Laura, the Wildcats’ sophomore QB, threw for six scores and for 484 yards on the Buffs — the latter tying Nebraska’s Joe Ganz in November 2007 for the most a CU defense has ever surrendered in a single game.

While the Arizona offense has significantly improved over 2021, its defense hasn’t — the Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12) entered Saturday’s tilt ranked 125th in the nation and next-to-last in the conference in giving up 225.8 rushing yards per game and 6.1 yards per carry.

Yet at halftime, in a two-score game, the Buffs had run it just 12 times … and thrown it 18.

Whether you’re judging talent, play-calling, charisma, experience and entertainment value, Dorrell’s program lacks on every front. Which is not to discount the guts flashed by five freshmen in particular — Owen McCown at QB (186 passing yards, two TDs vs. Arizona); Anthony Hankerson (68 rushing yards) and Charlie Offerdahl (54 combined receiving/rushing yards) at tailback; Jordyn Tyson (42 receiving yards) at wide receiver; and Van Wells at center, all of whom have been forced to learn on the fly.

It’s not the kids. It’s the big picture. The long view. The Buffs are 4-15 since Dec. 12, 2020. They’ve lost five consecutive games by at least 21 points to open the year for the first time in program history. CU appears to be on a collision course with its seventh season of eight or more defeats over the last 12 years.

The simple/convenient answer would be to eat the money and remove Dorrell, now 8-15 in three seasons as CU’s coach, from the mix. The Buffs (0-5, 0-2) are off this week — the Bye opened as a 17.5-point favorite — and the voices who snapped at George on Twitter after his open letter to fans two weeks ago aren’t getting any quieter.

Alas, the rot in Buffs football runs deeper than that. It goes higher.

If I’m Saliman, and if I’m truly serious about turning Ralphie around before she goes careening into a ditch, I don’t want DiStefano or George anywhere near the process of finding, vetting, or bargaining with Dorrell’s replacement. Whether that replacement is required for this December or not.

You can’t truly fix the front porch without cleaning the house first. DiStefano’s public support for a set of matching boondoggles — former Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Scott’s TV network — was confounding at the time. Given the league’s current chaotic state, some of those sentiments look completely out of touch. With reality, especially.

As for George, his heart was in the right place when he went after Dorrell. But that heart was broken to the point where it clouded some of the logic inherent to the process.

In the Buffs AD’s defense, Dorrell was a panicked, left-field buy at a panicked, left-field time. Tucker dumped the Buffs in the middle of the night, in the middle of February, well after the traditional hiring cycle had wiped the shelves clean of conventional options.

In a world of transfer portals and Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) liberties, George’s takes on both have registered as noble, ethical, altruistic — and, in the context of how the SEC runs things, more than a little anachronistic. Big-time college football is a dirty game, and empowering players, while long overdue, has only made that game dirtier.

The Buffs need a full-time coach who’s comfortable as a part-time salesman. Someone who knows he’ll have to recruit not only someone else’s kids, but will have to devote serious time and energy into re-recruiting his own. Every dang year. Every dang month. Every dang day.

Dorrell, who spent nearly all of his 2008-2019 autumns coaching on NFL staffs, didn’t sign up for that. And it’s shown.

Hindsight makes geniuses of us all. If we knew then — namely, that a global pandemic was going to shake 2020 like a snow globe — what we know now, perhaps we’d have done it all differently. Maybe we’d have given the reins to then-offensive coordinator Darrin Chiaverini on an interim basis that winter and let the chips fall.

And maybe in that parallel universe, we might have wound up limping to this same, sad point by the first week of October 2022 anyway. But I’ll promise you this much: We sure as heck would’ve gotten there cheaper.

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