Hawkins job is safe for now

Dan Hawkins’ job is safe, at least for now.

Although it’s widely assumed that Hawkins’ days in Boulder are

numbered, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn issued a statement

following the Buffaloes’ historic collapse Saturday at Kansas that

gave no indication Hawkins’ firing was imminent.

The Jayhawks scored the final 35 points to erase Colorado’s

45-17 fourth-quarter lead, the biggest collapse in Colorado

history, one fueled by poor coaching decisions such as throwing the

ball with the big lead when running out the clock was in order.

Afterward, Hawkins walked out on his post-game interview with

KOA radio, the Buffs’ flagship station, when asked about not

running the ball more in the fourth quarter to salt away their

first road win since 2007.

The Buffaloes (3-6) are 0-5 in their Big 12 farewell tour and

have lost 17 straight outside Colorado, yet Bohn is sticking with

his embattled coach who is 19-39 in five seasons.

Hawkins’ son, Cody, is the only healthy quarterback on the

roster with starter Tyler Hansen recovering from a hard hit that

hospitalized him two weeks ago.

It might be awkward for the athletic director to fire the

quarterback’s father with three weeks left in the season, including

senior day in two weeks, when parents join their sons on the field

for pregame ceremonies.

After returning to Boulder, Bohn issued a statement that said:

”It goes without saying that this game was extremely disappointing

on many levels and obviously these developments do not meet our

expectations. That’s not to disparage Kansas’ accomplishment in any

way. While we share many of the same frustrations and serious

disappointment as our fans, I have confidence in this group of

seniors to represent this team and the university with both pride

and a competitive spirit the rest of the season.

”I am cognizant and most appreciative of our fan support of the

players during this difficult season,” Bohn continued. ”Their

loyal following will be integral to our immediate and long-term

success.”

He said nothing about Hawkins’ job status, although the two are

expected to meet this week.

A Denver columnist on Sunday called for fans attending next

weekend’s game against Iowa State to protest the state of the

program under Hawkins by turning their backs during the opening

kickoff just as the coach turned his back last week on kicker Aric

Goodman as the senior attempted a field goal at Oklahoma.

Hawkins was one of the hottest coaches in the nation when he

took over at Colorado in 2006 after going 53-11 at Boise State. He

replaced Gary Barnett, who lost his job after two scandal-plagued

years and a 70-3 loss to Texas in the Big 12 title game after the

2005 season.

Meanwhile, Hawkins’ former assistant, Chris Petersen, has built

Boise State into a national championship contender, leading many

critics to suggest that Bohn hired the wrong man away from the

Broncos.

Bohn, Chancellor Phil DiStefano and President Bruce Benson took

heavy criticism for not firing Hawkins after the Buffs finished 3-9

last season.

Hawkins also alienated alumni and former players by saying the

program was ”burned to the ground” when he got there even though

the Buffaloes had reached the league championship game several

times under Barnett.

This year, Hawkins moved practices from their traditional

afternoon time slot to early mornings and took players’ names off

the backs of their jerseys. The culture of losing and Hawkins’ curt

public persona in the face of so much criticism has stayed the

same.

After starting 3-1, the Buffs have lost five straight and will

have to beat Iowa State and Kansas State at home and Nebraska on

the road to avoid a fifth straight losing season.

Hawkins offered a surprising suggestion this summer in a meeting

in the athletic department. According to the Boulder Daily Camera,

a senior staff member asked him if there was one thing the

department could do to help his program succeed this season and he

responded by saying the school should give him another contract

extension.

Although his contract runs through Jan. 31, 2013, Hawkins later

told the Camera he was simply seeking stability. Hawkins already

was awarded one contract extension in 2008 following his only bowl

appearance in 2007 and signing a nationally ranked recruiting class

that year.

Hawkins is making nearly $1.5 million this season in base salary

and incentives, less than every coach in the Big 12 except Iowa

State coach Paul Rhoads.

The Buffaloes are moving West next season, along with Utah, to

the newly named Pac-12.