As a former CU athlete, I was rooting for Coach Hawkins up until his last days. Last January, as the Foundation, fans, Coloradans, and other Buffaloes called for his firing, I knew that he deserved another chance. I would have been upset if he had been fired a year ago, but I am not that upset now. Everyone deserves second chances, he got his, and unfortunately, he wasn’t able to to put together a winning CU football team. It’s not just him – the other coaching staff and the players are also responsible for the losses, but Hawkins is the one who hears about it when his plans don’t pan out. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what he signed up for. I liked him a lot. He’s a stand-up coach and a good person.
I was an athlete when Coach Barnett managed the football team and its staff. Team morale, sportsmanship, and general conduct were at times ok, at times abismal. However, we went to two Bowl Games in the early 2000’s (lost both), and generally had winning seasons, packed Folsom Field every weekend, and the athletic department was happy. Barnett encouraged his players and recruits to do disgusting things in the name of winning, though. When Hawkins rolled in, he changed that. He encouraged community involvement, clean recruiting practices, academics, and also inspired his players, although some as young as 17, to act like grown-ups, not the hooker-crazed, drug-addled, cheaters from the previous program. But we didn’t win. Hawkins was officially fired today, after a 19-39 record in almost five years. I’m sad that he’s gone, but I feel comfortable that his dismissal didn’t come too quickly. It’s time to move on and try something new.
My first point is this: There has to be a way for a Division 1 college football team to win with clean recruiting practices. Clean recruiting can limit your breadth and appeal, but it’s what’s legal and fair. Unfortunately, lots of unfair recruiting practices slip under NCAA’s radar, and the best players can be lured to better schools with more perks. How can we create a stand-up program that swallows naive children and spits out smart men, and still win? The PAC-12, our future conference, is one of the hardest conferences in Division 1 football. We need to find a way.
My second and most important point: We have three more games. If you’re in Boulder, this is a time to witness a great game in a great stadium, and for CHEAP. Please go out and support our Buffaloes. They deserve a showing of support. They are students, brothers, sons, fathers, and they work their butts off every Saturday to win. They don’t always succeed, but they always try. Please don’t get caught up in local sports politics. Go out and enjoy a November football game at a beautiful school with an exemplary legacy.