Colorado St. players involved in ‘savage beating’ of students suspended

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A disturbing incident which took place over the weekend has resulted in three players being at least temporarily removed from the Colorado State football program.

The players — junior defensive end Nordly Capi (pictured), junior linebacker Mike Orakpo and junior defensive end Colton Paulhus — were allegedly involved in the “savage beating“, as the Fort Collins Coloradoan described it, of four freshman CSU students at a party late Friday night.  The alleged victims were left with various injuries, from chipped teeth to eyes nearly swollen shut to cuts and bruises to one having a boot print left on his back from where he was allegedly assaulted by one of the football players.

Two of the alleged victims, 19-year-old John ‘JD’ Haley and 20-year-old Donny Gocha, spoke to the Coloradoan and relayed their version of how the events that night transpired.

They say they were leaving a party at LaPorte and Shields about midnight on Friday when an SUV loaded with fellow students drove past, its occupants yelling homophobic insults. When Gocha responded with the same insult, the SUV screeched to a halt and several men piled out, Haley said.

“You could just tell they were looking for a fight,” Haley said. “They just started beating the back of Donny’s head in.”

Haley said he and their other two friends tried to protect Gocha while the much larger men kicked and punched him.

“I covered Donny’s head with my body,” Haley said. “We were all scared for his life. It froze me. You can’t really put into words how disturbing it was. My only thought was to protect his head.”

Haley added that “[i]t wasn’t really much of a fight. It was basically just a beating.  I’ve never seen anyone so mad, so violent. The kid was on a rampage.” Haley did not reveal which football-playing “kid” to which he was referring.

In a Facebook posting that was subsequently deleted, offensive lineman Trey Cassidy acknowledged that unnamed teammates were involved in the alleged beating, in essence apologizing for their actions and lamenting the fact that the entire program will be portrayed in a harsh light because of the actions of a few.

“Well first off, I want to apologize for what my teammates have done to three students last night. I just talked to the students who were assaulted. I hang out in their hall regularly and do not believe that there is any hostility between us,” Cassidy wrote Saturday on a Facebook group where Haley had posted photos of his injuries. “I figured everyone else should know that not everyone on the team are like these athletes that get into fights every other weekend. But it is this select few … that get the rest of us labeled as a group, you would assume that everyone on campus would realize this. But let’s face reality people, some people are going to label the entire team as hot headed people that can’t be trusted.”

“A group of football players jumped a few students, I am not allowed to really get into it but I can say they are currently suspended.”

Capi, who led the Mountain West Conference in sacks last season, and Orakpo, the younger brother of former Texas standout Brian Orakpo and the Rams’ third-leading tackler in 2011, were also involved in a physical altercation around St. Patrick’s Day this year.  No charges were ever filed in that incident, nor have any been filed (yet) as a result of this latest situation.

First-year head coach Jim McElwain announced Saturday that three players had been indefinitely suspended by the program.  While again not releasing the specific names of the players, and perhaps in response to the calls for all three players to be permanently dismissed from the program, McElwain released a statement Monday afternoon.  Here it is, in its entirety:

“At this point, the three players reported to be involved in the incident over the weekend are indefinitely suspended from the football program. That means they are effectively no longer part of this team and will not take part in any football-related activity. We do not condone in any way, shape or form this type of behavior. It is completely unacceptable.

“I understand people want me to remove them from the team immediately. But until the investigation concludes and due process takes its course, suspending them indefinitely is the strongest action I can take.

“The vast majority of players in this program are good kids. They work hard and they do the right thing. They understand that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.”

Once the police investigation is completed, that report will be the basis for an internal investigation, which will determine what if any permanent sanctions will be levied on any or all of the players allegedly involved.

Wisconsin fires Chryst, names DC Leonhard interim coach

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Wisconsin fired head coach Paul Chryst on Sunday after a 2-3 start to his eighth season leading the school where he played, in the city where he grew up.

The surprising move comes a day after Wisconsin lost at home 34-10 to Illinois and former Badgers coach Bret Bielema.

Chryst is 67-26 since taking over as coach of the Badgers in 2015 after being hired away from Pittsburgh.

But the program has been backsliding. Chryst had double-digit win seasons in four of his first five years at Wisconsin and had gone 15-10 since.

Chryst, the 56-year-old Madison native, has four years left on his contract. He was set to make $5.25 million this season.

Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, another former Badgers player, was named interim coach. The 39-year-old former NFL defensive back has been part of Chryst’s staff for seven seasons and is considered one of the top assistant coaches in the country.

The in-season coaching move was the fifth already this season, and second of the day. Earlier Sunday, Colorado dismissed Karl Dorrell.

But none of the changes have been as unexpected as Wisconsin’s.

The program has been built on stability for more than three decades since Barry Alvarez turned it around in the 1990s.

Chryst, who played quarterback for the Badgers in the late 1980s, was an assistant and offensive coordinator under Alvarez and Bielema.

The Badgers’ offense, built on a powerful running game and efficient passing, has often looked stale over the last three years and struggled against better competition. Wisconsin managed only 2 yards rushing against Illinois, the program’s lowest total since 2015.

After losing to Illinois at Camp Randall Stadium for the first time in 20 years, Chryst said he was undeterred and looked forward to getting a chance to fix the problems.

“Do you want to be better? Absolutely. And you just want to focus on the things that you can do to help move the needle, help our players and assistant coaches,” he said. “So I didn’t think it’s going to be easy, and yet I believe in this group and I like this group. I appreciate where they’re coming from and how they go about it. I look forward to each day I get to be with them.

“We get to be together again, and we’ve got to roll up our sleeves and continue to go to work.”

Dorrell out as coach at Colorado after 0-5 start to season

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BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado fired football coach Karl Dorrell after an 0-5 start in which the Buffaloes have been blown out by more than 20 points in each game.

The school announced the decision Sunday, a day after a 43-20 loss at Arizona. It’s only the fourth 0-5 start in the history of Colorado (1980, 1984 and 2006).

Dorrell, 58, was brought in as a replacement when Mel Tucker bolted for Michigan State out of the blue in February 2020.

The hiring of Dorrell was met with surprise because he had been out of college coaching for a while. He was an assistant with the Miami Dolphins at the time, but had been UCLA’s head coach from 2003-07.

Dorrell, who had built a house in the Boulder area, agreed to a five-year, $18 million contract that ran through 2024. The buyout is approximately $8.7 million, but could be reduced pending his next job. His termination was first reported by ESPN.

Colorado waited to announce the news until after Dorrell had a chance to inform his staff and players in a meeting. Defensive coordinator Chris Wilson was also let go.

Offensive coordinator Mike Sanford will serve as interim coach. Defensive line coach Gerald Chatman will serve as the team’s defensive coordinator, while passing game coordinator/tight ends coach Clay Patterson takes over as offensive coordinator.

The Buffaloes are idle this week before hosting California.

Dorrell didn’t have much of an offseason program due to coronavirus restrictions his inaugural season, but led the Buffaloes to a 4-2 mark – they started 4-0 – and an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. Dorrell was named Pac-12 coach of the year.

It was downhill from there. Colorado went 4-8 last season and saw several key starters leave through the transfer portal. This season, Colorado has rotated through three quarterbacks in trying to ignite an offense that ranks near the bottom of the FBS ranks. The Buffaloes and rival Colorado State, who have a new coach in Jay Norvell, are the only two teams left in the FBS without a win.

“The results on the field just did not measure up to our expectations and standards, which made it necessary for us to make this change at this time,” Colorado director of athletics Rick George said in a statement. “It was an extremely difficult decision and I wish Karl all of the best in his future endeavors.”

This is what it’s come to in Boulder: George issued a statement last month to pacify fans after a 49-7 loss at Minnesota. He said he recognized and understood the disappointment as the team has not “come close to meeting our expectations.” He urged the fans to stick with the program and support the team.

The loss to Arizona became the final blow for Dorrell, whose team has been outscored by a 216-67 margin. The Wildcats were a team predicted to finish 11th in the Pac-12 preseason media poll, with Colorado last. The Buffaloes’ defense surrendered 673 total yards Saturday – the most since allowing 616 to Arizona in 2015.

Dorrell weathered some rocky moments over his time in Boulder. A year ago, he apologized after losing his cool and pushing a photojournalist’s camera on his way off the field following a 37-14 loss to Southern California.

He also came under fire last season for skipping his customary postgame radio show after a 30-0 loss to the Gophers. In addition, Dorrell drew scrutiny when players weren’t made available after a 55-23 loss to Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

Since joining the Pac-12 in 2011, the Buffaloes have turned to coaches such as Jon Embree, Mike MacIntyre, Tucker and Dorrell to try to turn the Buffaloes around. MacIntyre led the Buffaloes to the conference championship game in 2016, but it was his only winning season out of six.

Tucker seemed to have the Buffaloes on the right path, bringing in several top prospects, before leaving for Michigan State after on season. That opened the door for Dorrell, who served as a receivers coach and later as offensive coordinator for Colorado in the 1990s.

A national search for a coach is expected to start soon.

“I fully support Rick in making this difficult decision to dismiss Coach Dorrell,” Chancellor Philip DiStefano said. “The football team is an important part of the university and I know our students, alumni, and fans have high expectations for a winning product on the field.”