Buffs begin post-Hawkins era
The students at Folsom Field probably won’t have bags over their
heads now. The crowd won’t stand in protest and turn its back on
the coach who did just that when his kicker was attempting a field
goal recently. And maybe there won’t be as many empty seats as the
The Dan Hawkins era is over at the University of Colorado.
He was fired this week following the worst collapse in the
program’s 121-year history when the Buffaloes blew a four-touchdown
lead and surrendered 35 points in the final 11 minutes in a
historic 52-45 loss at Kansas.
What began in December 2005 as ”Hawk Love” when he came over
from Boise State as one of the hottest coaches in the country had
turned into ”Hawk Hate” by the end of his five failed seasons in
Boulder, which included a 19-39 record, 17 straight losses outside
the state and a current five-game skid in Colorado’s Big 12
The Buffaloes (3-6) host Iowa State (5-5, 3-3), which can become
bowl eligible with a win, on Saturday under interim coach Brian
Cabral, who has been on the coaching staff since 1989 after playing
linebacker for the Buffaloes and in the NFL.
Cabral would like a shot at the full-time job, and he’s among
several lower profile candidates who are in the school’s price
range. Athletic director Mike Bohn makes no secret that Colorado
lacks the cash and cachet to go after the really big names in
Cabral is a defensive mind – he coached the inside linebackers –
so he’s been cramming on offense since taking over head coaching
”This is the first time I’ve ever watched the offense
practice,” he admitted.
And what happens Saturday in crucial situations?
”I’ll confer, I’ll confer,” Cabral said. ”I don’t know all
the answers, I don’t. And I’m going to have to rely and depend on
Cabral knows exactly what Colorado needs to do on defense: stop
Cyclones running back Alexander Robinson, who has had three good
games against the Buffs.
”The dude is hard to tackle,” Cabral said.
Cabral isn’t used to worrying about the other side of the
”I’m learning. We had a drill and I’m mad at the defense then,
Oh, I have to go congratulate the offense!” Cabral said. ”I go
run back to the other side of the field and become an offensive
Although Cabral wants an interview with Bohn, he’s not going to
publicly lobby for the permanent job. Nor does he see the next
three weeks as an audition necessarily, although beating Iowa
State, Kansas State and Nebraska would certainly augment his resume
and standing in many fans’ eyes.
”No, I’m looking for these seniors to finish on a good note,”
Cabral said. ”I’m looking for us to do what we’re capable of
doing. I believe we’re capable of doing a lot.”
Cabral said he’s not going to juggle the lineup or make any
That sits well with his players, who are eager to put the week’s
drama and years of negativity behind them and just focus on
football minus the distractions.
At his farewell news conference, Hawkins said he hoped the Buffs
faithful would show up this Saturday and next to support his old
”They have had to learn too much about adversity in their young
lives, so that chapter has been covered pretty well. Hopefully at
some point, they will get the spoils of victory,” Hawkins said.
”But I think these guys are poised to go out and play well and
compete and get after it the next three games, maybe four.
”I hope the Buff nation will show the kids and show the nation
and future recruits and the future coach how much passion there is
here and how much they are behind the program.”
Senior cornerback Jalil Brown said no matter the crowd’s size,
he expects the Buffaloes will rally around each other.
”Everybody is counting us down and out and we feel like we
still have a fighting chance,” Brown said. ”I would not be
surprised to see our best football being played this
There was some speculation in recent weeks that Buffs
quarterback Cody Hawkins, who was elevated to starter with Tyler
Hansen sidelined, would quit if his father were fired.
No way, said the younger Hawkins, noting he signed on to play
for the Buffs, not just for his father.
”Coach Cabral talks about having a black and gold heart, I
believe that inside my chest that I have one of those,” Cody
Hawkins said. ”Regardless of what the situation is, regardless of
what’s going on outside, I’m going to prepare, I’m going to compete
and be there for my guys.”