Dan Hawkins Fired at Colorado
Associate head coach Brian Cabral will take over as interim head coach for the Buffaloes final three regular season games and athletic director Mike Bohn said a search committee would be in place by the end of the week to conduct a national search. Former CU coach Bill McCartney, 70, is believed to be a serious candidate for the job despite being out of football since retiring from the program in 1994.
The announcement Hawkins' dismissal comes less than 72 hours after Buffaloes allowed a struggling Kansas program to score 35-unanswered points in the fourth quarter Saturday to erase a 28-point deficit in one of the biggest comebacks ever in Division I football.
The loss all but ensured Colorado would have another dismal finish under Hawkins' watch. Colorado is 3-6 and 0-5 in the Big 12. Overall, Hawkins has posted a 19-33 record. The decline, which included 3-9 record last season, made the move necessary.
"We collectively believed that it was important to provide the opportunity for Dan as head coach and his current staff to pull things together, and things looked bright just one month ago after we opened with a 3-1 record," Bohn said. "However, things have gone downhill from there. While we recognize the progress that we have made in several areas during nearly five years under Dan, the negativity and divisiveness that is associated with the current leadership has become detrimental and is beyond repair to our current enterprise and it's time to make a change."
The move has been seen as inevitable this last month as the decline in the Buffaloes program became more apparent. The Buffaloes have now lost 17 straight games outside of the state of Colorado. They have also lost 12 straight Big 12 seasons.
Hawkins, who came to CU after a successful run at Boise State in 2005, has never fully recovered from an opening loss to Division I-AA Montana State in 2006. The Buffaloes are heading toward their fifth straight losing season under Hawkins.
One of Hawkins biggest Achilles' heels since arriving has been his son, Cody Hawkins, playing quarterback for the Buffaloes. He benched his son this season in favor of Tyler Hansen, but when Hansen went down a couple weeks ago with a season-ending injury Cody Hawkins returned to the starting lineup.
Then once again, Cody Hawkins was at the center of another troubling loss this past weekend when the Buffaloes went into the fourth quarter with a 28-point lead over Kansas. But instead of running the ball to control the clock, Dan Hawkins directed the offense to continue passing the ball which paved the way for the Jayhawks to launch a quick comeback. There has been speculation the elder Hawkins was trying to help his son set a school passing record.
Whatever the case, the the 52-45 loss to Kansas was the final straw. Hawkins has two years remaining on his contract after having his original deal extended by two years in 2008 when the Buffaloes got off to a 3-0 start. But Colorado has gone 8-22 in its last 30 games, including 4-17 in the Big 12. Hawkins will receive a $1.8 million buyout on his contract that ends Dec. 31, 2012.
There has been a belief for a while that Colorado would look to begin with a completely clean slate next year when it begins play in the Pac-10 with Utah.
"I've met some tremendously special people and had some fantastic experiences during my time here at Colorado," Hawkins said. "Unfortunately, I was not able to bring the wins that so many Buff faithful wish for and deserve. My biggest pain comes from not being able to see the joy and happiness on our players faces on more occasions following a victory. CU has a great group of young men running out behind Ralphie every Saturday, those guys have worked very hard in the classroom, off the field, and on the field and have earned the right to win. I want the Buffs to experience that special feeling.
"I'd like to thank all the great people who surround and support the program, and especially those people on our staff who touch the players on a day-to-day basis; they are special," Hawkins added. "Please come out and support the University of Colorado football program and the players in the last two home games, as well as on the road in Lincoln, they need and deserve your encouragement. In the future I wish nothing but the best for CU as it moves in to the Pac-12, I hope everyone concerned with the program will pitch in and support the program on the path to another national championship."
Bohn had insisted all year long that he would not make a decision on Hawkins' future until after the season. The outrage following Saturday's loss made it impossible for Hawkins to finish out the season. This is the first time in the 121-year history of Colorado football that a football coach has been fired in season.
"I fully support Mike Bohn's decision to relieve Dan Hawkins of his duties immediately and appoint Brian Cabral interim head coach of the Buffs," CU-Boulder Chancellor Dr. Philip P. DiStefano said. "I believe this is the right decision first and foremost for our players, who have worked hard and endured much this season, but also for our alumni, donors and fans, who have stood by the team over the last five years. Our focus should now be on supporting Coach Cabral and the team, finishing this season as strongly as we can, and setting our sights on obtaining a new head coach as we head into our inaugural season in the Pac-12 Conference."