CU in 2011, Because 2010 is over

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“Turn out the lights, the party’s over …”

Where is Dandy Don Meredith when you need him?

For those of us old enough to remember, the ABC Monday Night Football football crew once consisted of Frank Gifford, Howard Cossell, and Don Meredith. In the 1970′s, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback was the light-hearted counter-balance to the irascible Cosell, and millions looked forward to Monday nights when the two would do battle with one another on the air.

One of Dandy Don’s signatures came when the Monday night NFL offering game was safely out of hand. Meredith, a southern crooner who went to school at SMU, would belt out a farewell to the losing team , “Turn out  the lights, the party’s over. They say that all good things must end …”.

Well, it’s turn out the lights time for the University of Colorado football team under Dan Hawkins.

Enough will finally be enough.

True, there are five games still to play, and there will be much talk in the Dal Ward Center this week about playing hard each gamep; about taking it “one game at a time”. A bowl game is still possible, they will say. The Buffs are only 3-4, and need only to go 3-2 to qualify for a bowl game in 2010. The Buff players will put on brave faces, and say the right things.

But no one will believe them.

I’m not sure the players will be believe any of it, either.

For all practical purposes, Colorado had to win one of its two home games against the Big 12 South this year to have any chance of going to a bowl game in 2010; and probably had to win both. Instead, Colorado had every chance to defeat Baylor last weekend, but came up short, falling 31-25. Saturday, the Buffs blew a ten-point fourth quarter lead against Texas Tech to lose, 27-24.

Colorado will now go on the road, against Oklahoma, carrying the burden of a three-game losing streak and road losing streak dating back over three seasons. The line will probably be around 30 points. The train wreck will be nationally televised on ESPN.

Will a 56-3 loss be enough for Colorado athletic director to pull the plug? Oklahoma will be looking for style points for the national pollsters, and the Colorado Buffaloes will be powerless to stop them.

But that’s for next week …

For now, for those who would like to bookmark the moment in history when the Dan Hawkins’ experiment officially came to an end at the University of Colorado, it came not with two minutes remaining, when Texas Tech kicked the winning field goal.

In came earlier in the fourth quarter.

Colorado was nursing a seven point lead, 24-17, and had just taken over after a turnover on a punt return. The Buffs recovered the fumble at the Texas Tech 35-yard line, and managed one first down before the series which decided the game.

An illegal substitution penalty pushed the ball into the redzone at the Texas Tech 18-yard line.

First-and-five; up a touchdown; 13 minutes to play.

Colorado had the Red Raiders on their heels, and had the crowd in the game. Dan Hawkins’ son Cody was in line to be the hero. A two-touchdown lead was in the offing. The Buffs would be 4-3 with the win, just two victories away from being bowl eligible. The “Hawk Haters” would be nervous … Would the Buffs qualify for a bowl? Would Colorado have to keep Hawkins if the Buffs posted a winning season?

A touchdown on that drive would have raised just such questions.

The Colorado offense to that point had not been successful on the ground, but if there were ever a time to assert dominance along the line of scrimmage, this was it. Give the ball to Rodney Stewart, and let “Speedy” take time off the clock, gain the necessary yardage, and put the game away. Wasn’t Stewart ranked 22nd in the nation in rushing coming into the game? Wasn’t Speedy being marketed weekly as the player who got the “tough” yards for the Buffs?

First-and-five at the 18-yard line.

Piece of cake.

Then the Buffs, or more precisely, senior quarterback Cody Hawkins, threw three straight incompletions.

No effort to run the ball when the down, the distance, the score, the time remaining – everything – mandated that the Buffs run the ball.

Three straight incompletions by Cody Hawkins.

It was the Dan Hawkins’ era in microcosm.

The missed field goal by Aric Goodman on the next play was all-but irrelevant. The interception in the endzone later in the fourth quarter by Jalil Brown was a mere stay of execution. Fans who have put up with Dan Hawkins for the past five years already knew, even though Colorado was up by seven points, that the Buffs’ best chance to win the game had been lost.

Perhaps it was all too appropriate that the home losses to Baylor and Texas Tech bookended one of the better weeks in the history of the Colorado athletic department. On Thursday, Pac-12 chancellors and presidents ratified the agreement amongst the membership as to divisions, the conference championship game site, and revenue sharing. Colorado got want it wanted – an annual (recruiting) trip to southern California as a member of the Pac-12 South, and an equal distribution of media revenue, which could double the revenue the Buffs were receiving as a member of the Big 12.

It was a great week for the Buff Nation, sandwiched between two tough losses at home by the football team.

There is talent on the Colorado roster. The Buffs will lose one of its best all-time receivers, along a great tackle, from the offense. Colorado will have to replace two quality cornerbacks and two decent linebackers from the defense … and that’s about it. Colorado has a huge junior class in 2010, and will have a huge senior class in 2011.

It will be a perfect storm for the new head coach … new enthusiasm which always meets a new staff. A renewed sense of enthusiasm amongst the Colorado fan base. A large senior class dedicated to show that the University of Colorado can be competitive in the Pac-12 (and a large first full recruiting class for the new coach in 2012).

Colorado will face one of the toughest schedules in the nation next fall. In addition to a yet to be announced Pac-12 schedule which will include games against Cal, USC, UCLA, Arizona State and Arizona, the Buffs will have road games at Ohio State (currently 7-1 and ranked in the top ten) and Hawai’i (6-2 – anyone else noticed that the Warriors have not lost a game since losing to Colorado?), the Rocky Mountain Showdown against Colorado State, and a home game against Fresno State (4-2).  Unless The Buffs pick up a conference game against Washington State, Colorado may not be favored in more than a handful of games in 2011.

Still, the future looks bright. Buff fans have a great deal to look forward to as a member of the new Pac-12.

It would have been nice if there had been more to look forward to in the last half of 2010, but the Buffs’ play calling in the fourth quarter, with a seven-point lead and a first-and-five in the red zone, took that away from us.

Cue Dandy Don …

10 Responses to “CU in 2011, Because 2010 is over”

  1. matt

    MY SHORT LIST OF COACHING CANDIDATES:

    Interested in Troy Calhoun, Eric Bienemy, Dan Mullen, Gus Malzahn, Ken Niumatalolo, Mike Bellotti

    Not Interested in: McCartney or Logan

  2. Kt buff

    the problems at cu start at the presidents office where mr.benson is worried more about budget short falls than athletics. If only he realized that a great football
    program could generate so much of that much needed revenue. The next coach has to be someone that can win with very little. There’s no other way. Once the football team is bringing in w’s and more revenue, maybe then the administration will throw its support behind the program. The new coach has to be able to win with three star talent cause that’s all they are going to be able to get. It can be done look at brian kelley and urban meyer when he was at utah. It would also help if said coach could sheem like those others!

  3. This is depressing. There really are no other words. To have watched this team my entire life, and have seen the highest highs, and now possibly some of the lowest lows. I will never forget watching the Buffs lose to MONTANA STATE. I’m convinced at this point to be a CU fan is akin to being a masochist. It’s difficult to understand the decision making choices that the “higher ups” have executed. Let’s just be honest, Hawkins should’ve been gone last season, period. I agree with BuffGold2006–the coaching staff and play calling are abysmal. What needs to happen in 2011 is a full cleaning of house. It’s so sad to watch these talented kids want success so badly but because of poor coaching and bad decisions, it cannot be achieved. Bottom line: recruiting and coaching just don’t exist in Boulder, and haven’t for years now. Time to turn it around with the new steps in the Pac10 (or 12, now). It’s unbelievable to me how CU has overlooked how important the football program is there. Disappointing.

  4. Brad

    Hawkins will not be fired during the season. It will be the day after the last game. However, if there is not a short list of replacements already being drawn up in the AD’s office, then he is a bigger moron than anyone thinks.

  5. Buffalo Bob

    Please, please fire hawkins now. The team is demoralized, the coaches are a mess, and the zen master is a total jerk. If he had any stones he would quit, but then no buy out for the fraud head coach. Stop the bleeding…fire hawkins now.

  6. Millard Foraker

    If Bohn doesn’t fire Hawkins this week, or after the Okie beatdown we’ll get next week, both he and Hawk should be fired on the spot. As bad as Hawk is let’s not forget who hired him. Not sure Bohn is much better.

  7. nynow

    This team has talent and heart. They are being destroyed by poor coaching – from play calling to motivation to teaching everything this staff does works against the talent assembled. I’ll give Hawkins credit, he has put players on the roster who can win games. But he will never win with his underdog motivating style, (fake) short leash (which is just vacillating and not understanding players talent or psyches), and inability to understand that at this level a player who is athletically talented enough to cause problems must be coached up to play ahead of someone who can run the plays in practice but is not talented enough to effectively make plays in a Big 12 game.

  8. KEVIN

    For those who are objective, the hawkins “error” ended a long, long time ago.

    Maybe it was 2006, in Athens, Georgia, with CU leading the #9 Bulldogs 13-7. Hugh Charles had run well all day, the defense had been stalwart. All CU had to do was KEEP RUNNING THE BALL, and KEEP RUNNING THE CLOCK. Instead, our brilliant, new, “riverboat gambler” coach decided to have B Jax throw 3 times in a row- 3 incomplete passes, 3 times stopping the clock, saving time for Georgia. THAT was the first warning sign that this guy was a FRICKIN IDIOT!!! Then there was the triple OT home loss to Baylor, again because of poor play-calling and idiotic clock management (all CU needed was to get within Mason Crosby’s [remember when we actually had a kicker?] 70-yard range to win the game in regulation.) Maybe it was hawkins’ (doesn’t deserve the respect to even have his name capitalized) belligerent rant @ us fans in club level following the loss to MONTANA STATE in Folsom, during which he yelled @ an elderly long-time booster who questioned the game plan. Maybe it was the blow-out embarrassing loss to Toledo on national TV- one of innumerable, embarrassments on national TV. Maybe it was numerous, disgraceful losses to the Colorado State sheep or just the one last year when their fans stomped on our logo in the middle of the field in OUR HOUSE. But probably, the most enraging aspect of the hawkin’s “error” and the end of his “error” was, of course his performance against the most hated entity in the universe- the CORN. After the Golden Buffaloes (under a coach not without problems, but at least, a REAL COACH) had effectively destroyed the CORN football psyche, getting 2 coaches fired and putting their program into a tailspin, within which they were not able to defeat a top 20 program for years following CU’s 62- 36 Nebrass-kickin’, hawkins has squandered the wooden stake that Chris Brown, et al had driven through their collective heart, via runs up-the-middle, through the pride of the PINK SKIRTS defense. Forget the 61-51 win with Coach Barnett’s upperclassmen, look at the the past 2 years. 2008: Squandered a 14-0 1st qtr lead, but still tied @ half & leading late, until, all-time record long field goal by CORN. But still able to get into range for our own game-winning field goal, until, CU’s all-time career leader in interceptions and pick-6′s did what he does most consistently- threw a pick-6; CORN 40, CU 31. Then ’09: despite out-gaining the CORN 403- 217 on offense, hawkins, the offensive genius, “home run hire,” couldn’t capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities- not even a field goal.

    As a ’93 CU graduate, 20-year season ticket holder, and current Club level ticket holder, I threw in the towel last year at halftime of the Wyoming game. Yes, CU won the game 24-0, but it was one of the most boring, depressing games I’ve ever attended. I had suffered through 3+ years of hawkins excuses, hocus-pokus, lies, and disrespect toward alumni, boosters, &fans

  9. BuffGold2006

    I am tired of watching a team that is completely undisciplined, poorly coached, and lacks a real identity. I really don’t care if the reason that the Buffs lose is because they were ran off the field. But I am really feel that a lot of the losses relate directly to the coaching staff. Dan Hawkins does not have any business coaching any team in Division I, the special teams coach should resign, and I still don’t have any idea of why or how Eric Keissau got a job as O-coordinator-the pay calling is an absolute train wreck.

    The dream of being competitive on a national level seems dead. Hopefully, we can get a coach in Boulder who can really teach our players how to be disciplined and perform on the field.

  10. NoCo

    I went to the game today. Great environment. Good to great crowd. But, as you wrote, Hawkins chose to pass when the need to exert dominance dictated to run. I also agree that CU has talent–especially on the field. CU does not have talent when it comes to coaching. Looking forward to 2011. Happy New Year.

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