Dead Dan Walking...Hawkins' Coaching Draining Life from the Colorado Buffaloes

Stuart WhitehairAnalyst INovember 6, 2010

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 04:  Head coach Dan Hawkins of the Colorado Buffaloes leads his team against the Colorado State Rams in the Rocky Mountain Showdown at INVESCO Field at Mile High on September 4, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Colorado was awarded the Centenial Trophy after they defeated Colorado State 24-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images


Dead Dan Walking

Just when you thought that there were no records left for Dan Hawkins to set in his inglorious stint as the head coach at the University of Colorado, he goes and sets two more.

The Buffs absorbed their worst “come from ahead” loss in school history, giving up 35 unanswered points to fall to Kansas, 52-45. The Jayhawks, who had scored 40 points—total—in their first four Big 12 conference games, scored 35 in the fourth quarter to hand the Buffs their 15th consecutive road loss.

The other all-time record which Dan Hawkins is about to lose is just as egregious, at least for me.

Colorado now has an 0-5 record in the Big 12 conference, the worst start in conference play since the 1979 team started Big Eight play with an 0-5 record. In all likelihood, if the Kansas game is to be any sort of yardstick, Colorado will not win a game the remainder of the season, finishing its last year in the Big 12 with an embarrassing 0-8 conference record.

Colorado has not finished winless in conference play and has not finished alone at the bottom of its conference, since 1915.

Let’s try that one on again for size. The last time Colorado finished alone in the basement of its conference, Woodrow Wilson was President. In 1915, Colorado posted an 0-5 record in Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, 1-6 overall.

In the succeeding 22 seasons in the RMAC, the Buffs never finished last alone.

In the 10 years Colorado played in the Mountain States Conference (1938-47), the Buffs never finished last alone.

In the 10 years Colorado played in the Big Seven (1948-57), the Buffs never finished last alone.

In the 38 years Colorado played in the Big Eight (1958-95), the Buffs never finished last alone.

In the first 14 years Colorado played in the Big 12 (1996-2009), the Buffs never finished last alone.

[For those of you scoring at home, I will give you these tidbits...Colorado has finished tied for last in its conference twice—in 1980 Colorado and Kansas State both finished with 1-6 Big Eight records. In 1982, Colorado, Iowa State, and Kansas all finished with 1-5-1 Big Eight records. Other than that, Colorado has never even finished tied for last since 1915. There is also this: Only Colorado and Oklahoma from the original Big Eight can make the claim of never finishing last alone. Nebraska finished last alone once, in 1957; all the other schools have done it numerous times]

True, Kansas plays three ranked teams to close out the season and will likely lose all three. This means that Dan Hawkins would only have to win one of the remaining three games this season to avoid being the first Colorado coach in almost a century to drag the Buffs into the basement.

After the debacle in Lawrence, though, it would be hard to imagine the Buffs being victorious in any of its remaining games.

One last record for Dan Hawkins to think about as he looks back on how he found the Colorado program “burned to the ground” after four Big 12 North titles in five seasons, then proceeded to become the first Colorado coach in school history to lead the team to five straight losing seasons.

Other Records in the Dan Hawkins’ Legacy...

- In 2006, Dan Hawkins posted the worst first-year record (2-10) for a Colorado coach since Melbourne “Bob” Evans directed the 1916 Buffs to a 1-5-1 record.

- In the first game between the University of Colorado and a team from Division 1-AA in school history, Dan Hawkins lost (19-10 to Montana State).

- When Dan Hawkins took over in 2006, Colorado had posted a 57-30-1 record in road games played since 1989 (the 9th-best record in the nation). Colorado has since gone 2-23 on the road.

- When Dan Hawkins took over in 2006, Colorado had just dropped out of the top ten for the best overall records in college football (from 1989-2006). Colorado is now 29th on that list.

- Between 1999 and 2005, Colorado had 34 return touchdowns (interception, fumble, punt, kickoff), ranked 7th in the nation. Colorado has nine such returns in five years under Dan Hawkins and now ranks 17th in that category.

- Colorado had a 40-45-2 record against ranked opponents between 1989 and 2005. Under Dan Hawkins, Colorado has gone 3-15 against ranked opponents.

- Since the inception of the Big 12, Colorado had a 17-13 record against the Big 12 South before Dan Hawkins arrived. Under Dan Hawkins, the Buffs went 5-10 against the Big 12 South.

- On the road in the Big 12 overall, Colorado was 21-18 before Dan Hawkins came to Boulder. Under Dan Hawkins, with one road game left to play, the Buffs have gone 2-17.

- Before Dan Hawkins, Colorado, since 1976, had lost a two score lead only ten times (out of 218 games). Under Dan Hawkins, Colorado has lost a two score lead nine times, including the past two weeks. The Texas Tech loss at home marked the first time Colorado had lost a two score lead at home since 1986. The Kansas debacle … only the worst in school history.

- Colorado had only 19 losses to unranked teams between 1987 and 2005. In the Dan Hawkins’ era, Colorado has lost 24 games to unranked teams.

- Colorado had posted 18 winning seasons in 21 tries between 1985-2005. Since then, Colorado had gone 0-5 (assuming at least one more loss in 2010).

- And then there is, of course, the Colorado record for which I will always have Dan Hawkins to thank for losing. When Dan Hawkins came to Boulder, Colorado had scored in every game since losing 7-0 to Nebraska in the 1988 season. When Dan Hawkins took over, the Buffs had run the streak to 210 games, at the time the 5th longest active streak, and the 11th longest in NCAA history.

The streak made it up to 242 games (into the top five of active and the top ten on the all-time list) before the Buffs were humiliated by Missouri in 2008 by the score of 58-0. Going by the ridiculous “you play to win the game” theory late in the game, the Buffs continued to go for fourth down conversions rather than kick a face-saving field goal.

Cue Bob Hope...“Thanks for the memories…”.

Bye, Dan. Thanks for taking a program which had been “burned to the ground” and making it a laughingstock.

For the Kansas/Colorado game recap, as well as a look at potential candidates to replace Dan Hawkins, go to