November 07, 2010
Kansas 52, Colorado 45. At this point, it's not very productive to write something like "Dan Hawkins is a goner," because pretty much everyone in Colorado already assumed he was a goner. On the heels of the worst loss suffered by any team in America this year, it's more a matter of degree: Where there might have been a measure of patience, now it's just "off with his head."
That transition took about 10 minutes and 18 seconds of game time, which is how long it took Kansas to erase a 45-17 deficit with five unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter. An epic collapse under any circumstances, but especially damning at the hands of a lame duck outfit that's no stranger to being blown out: The Jayhawks were bounced out of their first four Big 12 games by an average of 37 points, including back-to-back humiliations against Baylor (55-7) and Kansas State (59-7) that seemed to confirm the utter hopelessness of their being. Turns out, all they needed was a struggling rival to leave the door wide open for them to crawl through:
"We thought the game was over (at halftime)," said Colorado running back Rodney Stewart, who rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. "We thought they were going to give up, but they never did. When the coach brought us over and told us we needed to pull it together is when we started to get it in our heads that we could lose."
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said he told his team to relax in the fourth quarter.
"We're up by 14, we're the team that's ahead and we've got the momentum, so we're still in control here," Hawkins said.
Obviously the Buffs were not in control, considering Kansas immediately returned a fumble for a touchdown, scored an interception to set up the tying score and drove 63 yards for the winning TD over the next eight minutes. I doubt that's what Hawkins meant there by "relax."
Until Saturday, the possibility of Hawkins getting the ax before the end of the regular season hasn't gained much traction, per CU chancellor Phil DiStefano and a schedule that offered a viable path to a bowl game. With the Buffs' Big 12 mark now sitting at 0-5 and the postseason looking like a distant fantasy, the excuses for waiting are dwindling:
LAWRENCE, Kan. – University of Colorado football coach Dan Hawkins has not been fired, but the school could make an announcement in regard to his future later this week, athletic director Mike Bohn confirmed Saturday night.
All indications are that Hawkins will be fired at the end of the season, if not sooner, and sooner is suddenly a real possibility after the Buffs` epic collapse at Kansas.
If Hawkins is fired, it is unclear whether he will be relieved of his duties immediately or be allowed to coach the remainder of the season.
Chancellor Phil DiStefano told the Camera last month that he prefers to wait until the end of the football season to make any decision about the future of the coaching staff. DiStefano did not attend Saturday's game because he was in California on CU business. Bohn and DiStefano could meet as soon as [Sunday] to discuss Hawkins' future.
If Hawkins holds on through the last three games, it could be because officials are worried about how his son might react: With starter Tyler Hansen out for the season with a ruptured spleen, Cody Hawkins is the only healthy quarterback on the depth chart, and he's notoriously sensitive to "attack" on his dad. If Cody balked at finishing his senior season without the elder Hawkins on the sideline, the Buffs could be forced to burn true freshman Nick Hirschman's redshirt for nothing in particular.
This morning, that may be all that stands between Dan Hawkins and the reaper: Colorado needs his kid to play out the string. But when it's over, it's over.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.