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bsn BSN: Chiaverini: ‘It’s time for the second rise of the Colorado program.’

Discussion in 'CU Buffs Newsroom' started by RSSBot, Aug 4, 2016.

  1. RSSBot

    RSSBot News Junkie

    Jul 8, 2005
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    Walking up to Darrin Chiaverini after Colorado’s first practice of fall camp on Thursday morning, I can’t help but wonder whether his face-to-face personality will mimic what we, as media members and social media users, see from him on digital platforms.

    I can’t help but wonder whether or not he’ll come off as so many coaches—hell, like so many of us all—do when greeted in person, as corny or overdone. Online, we’re allowed a certain privilege of privacy and separation from our everyday selves. Standing in front of me, he’d be nothing more than himself, however that would turn out to be.

    Right off the bat, it’s clear that coach has a clear air of confidence in his step, a charisma with his players that puts his recruiting prowess in clear perspective. That personality also extends beyond the roster and other would-be Buffaloes. His social media savvy isn’t so much savvy at all. He’s just…him, on or off the platform. He’s a coach, a recruiter, a husband, a father, a Buff.

    Like so many former Colorado players, Chiaverini remembers the program’s greatest rise, when Bill McCartney turned Boulder into a hotspot for All-Americans, national award winners, and championships. What makes him so effective as a coach, as a recruiter, and as an ambassador, is his firmly rooted, modern perspective. This is not about reliving past glory.

    It’s all about restoring order, sure, but more so about establishing a culture instead of reading a memoir.

    Part of that culture change was taking his position as recruiting coordinator head on, which has resulted in the birth of an online battle cry for the program: “#TheRise.” Many coaches working their way up the industry ranks, finding success at every stop and hoping to continue that at their alma mater, would tell me through their sunglasses that such a rallying call was done on purpose, carefully crafted with viral goals and a greater online impact in mind. Chiaverini laughs humbly as I ask him how the hashtag started.

    “Honestly it was just something I started to tweet out when I first got hired,” he says matter-of-factly. “It was something that I believed in as a player, seeing the first rise with coach McCartney, winning Big 8 championships and winning national championships. I feel, and I think our staff feels, that it’s time for the second rise of the Colorado football program.”

    Months after he started, the hashtag went about as viral as possible for a recruiting tagline. Chiaverini noticed fans catching onto the idea and it wasn’t long before CU Video adopted it. Most importantly, players and recruits took notice. While what exactly the program’s digital footprint looked like may have been unintended, having a footprint at all was a priority for Chiaverini. The uptick in social media activity for the football staff was immediate upon his arrival. Now, there’s even a Buff-signal meme tweeted out by the coaches to announce an impending commitment.

    “It was the number one thing on my agenda when I came here. We have to be more visible on social media,” he says, clearly in his element. “When I was working somewhere else, I didn’t see the University of Colorado on social media. I think it’s a great platform for us as coaches, for our recruits to see what we’re all about. When you’re recruiting Texas, southern and northern California, Hawai’i, Utah, Florida, or New Orleans, they don’t get a chance to see Boulder everyday. So, why not show it to them?

    “Show them videos, the imagery. Boulder’s a great town, we all know that but if you haven’t been here, you don’t realize how beautiful this place is…it’s free advertising, so why wouldn’t you do it? The kids, if they see you visibly every day, a message from me or coach MacIntyre…they’re seeing that message continually (and) they like it. Then a guy commits and they say, oh I want to be a part of that. Our class for next year has really become really close on social media, messaging each other, coming up for barbecues and trips. I think that’s pretty cool.”

    That camaraderie that he sees in the class of 2017, currently ranked No. 28 in the nation by Scout, reminds him of his playing days—days of top-ten rankings and major bowl game wins.

    “I know when I played here, my class was really tight,” he remembers. “(We) all had hand signals and all that, we were tight. There wasn’t social media so people didn’t see it but that’s what we did.”

    Persuading teenagers to buy into hype, especially visible hype, isn’t always much of a challenge. We’re all narcissistic and attention-starved at that age. Getting your colleagues to engage with those teenagers through social media on a daily basis, however, can be a tougher sell. Chiaverini seems pleased with the collective buy-in, but his approach remains to be one of leading by example.

    “You can’t make someone do it. I know I’m going to do what I do and hopefully they follow,” he says. “It’s important, as a recruiting coordinator I think it’s very important.”

    As much of the attention that has been paid his way has been related to his work as recruiting coordinator, that isn’t his only job title. Chiaverini works with wide receivers and was named co-offensive coordinator by MacIntyre. One of the first assignments he had upon accepting those roles was to find talented offensive weapons that could contribute immediately, as the Buffs face one of their most crucial seasons in recent memory.

    Due to his time in Lubbock with Texas Tech, he had an in with Davis Webb, a graduate transfer quarterback who some had called the best immediately-eligible quarterback we’ve seen on the market yet. Coach Chev got him, convincing Webb that filling in for a season while incumbent starter Sefo Liufau rehabbed his foot injury. Only Liufau wasn’t ready to simply take a backseat, redshirt, and look towards 2017.

    Sefo’s rehab intensified, his health improving. Suddenly, Webb’s position as the all-but-named starter for 2016 was in doubt. His commitment to Colorado wore thin, eventually spurning the Buffs for California, where he was named the starter this morning.

    In Boulder, more than 1,200 miles east of Berkeley, Liufau faced the media and proclaimed himself to be 100-percent healthy and ready to reclaim his spot behind center and, possibly, a spot atop the Buffs’ record books for passing.

    Chiaverini pauses for a moment, recognizing his quarterback’s perseverance through a difficult offseason.

    “It just shows his character,” he begins. “He’s a Buffalo. I played here, I love this school and I know what he’s gone through on that field with his ups and downs. We talk one on one and I tell him I’m proud of him and I’m going to work my butt off and help him be successful.

    “Sefo’s attitude, going through the injury and going through the off-season drama, he’s handled it like a true Buff. I think Sefo couldn’t care less about the records; he just wants to go out as a winning quarterback. When I talk to him, that’s what he talks about. What kind of legacy does Sefo want to leave? He wants to leave as a winner.”

    For a coach with such a pulse on the importance of social media, the impact of grassroots recruiting efforts, it isn’t surprising to hear how locked in he is on his quarterback’s situation. Still, it’s refreshing somehow. Because Chiaverini isn’t a caricature of the modern position coach or recruiter or coordinator.

    He’s a coach, a recruiter, a husband, a father, a Buff. And he’s home.

    William Whelan
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