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A happy Dan Hawkins during the CU Spring game on Saturday.
Cliff Grassmick
A happy Dan Hawkins during the CU Spring game on Saturday.


It feels like an election year for Dan Hawkins.

After all, this is the fourth summer Colorado’s head coach has traveled around the state — Hawkins appeared at a kickoff luncheon on Thursday at the Colorado Springs Marriott along with Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, Colorado State’s Steve Fairchild, Northern Colorado’s Scott Downing and CSU-Pueblo’s John Wristen — shaking hands, kissing babies and talking about what he’s doing to improve the Buffs.

At CU’s seniors awards banquet last December, Hawkins made a sort of 2009 campaign promise to his players and others close to the program when he concluded his marks with a “10 wins and no excuses” mantra for the upcoming season.

Despite a 13-24 record through his first three seasons in Boulder, Hawkins didn’t cringe when a reporter asked him Thursday if the Buffs were in position to make a run at the Big 12 title this fall.

“Do we have the potential to do that? Yes, we do,” Hawkins said after a long pause. “But you’ve got to get hot, you’ve got to get some confidence going, you’ve got to avoid injuries. And then you never know how those things will go. But I think we’re definitely getting closer to knocking on the door.”

Hawkins is pleased to finally have some experienced depth on the offensive line, a stable of gifted running backs, and good competition at quarterback, tight end and throughout what should be a solid defense.

There is obviously a perceived weakness at wide receiver, and Josh Smith’s recent decision to leave CU only adds to those concerns. Hawkins has named himself the new wide receivers coach in an attempt to get the most out of the position.

“Twenty-five-plus years of teaching,” Hawkins said when asked what he will add to the staff as the full-time receivers coach.

Hawkins seems to be as excited about the combination of experience and youth on the new-look coaching staff as he is about the Buffs’ deeper roster. He promoted Eric Kiesau to offensive coordinator after Mark Helfrich left for Oregon, hired Denver Johnson as the new offensive line coach after Jeff Grimes left for Auburn, promoted Ashley Ambrose to interim assistant wide receivers coach and was also able to keep Brad Bedell in the program as an intern.

“I think the whole equation worked out really awesome in a number of ways,” Hawkins said. “Whenever you put your staff together you’re always looking for guys who have a general, similar philosophy about how the big picture fits together.”

With a favorable schedule — at least by CU’s lofty standards — that picture should include Hawkins’ first winning season as the leader of the Buffs.

The Buffs have winnable home games against Wyoming, Kansas, Missouri, Texas A&M and Nebraska on the slate. There are a couple of daunting trips (at Texas, at Oklahoma State) in the Big 12, of course, but overall the road games appear to be somewhat manageable (at Toledo, West Virginia, Kansas State and Iowa State), at least on paper in June.

The whole thing officially gets started on Sept. 6 against Colorado State at Folsom Field, but Hawkins’ optimism about the 2009 season grew during the final week of spring drills, and he trusts his now more veteran players will take care of business this summer.

“I was talking to (CU cross country/track and field coach) Mark Wetmore and he was saying he told his team, ‘Whether I’m coach of the year or not totally depends on what happens in the summer,’ ” Hawkins said. “That’s where it all has to happen. Then what we need to do is start fall camp and really capitalize on what, to me, was probably our best week of practice since I’ve been at Colorado, that last week of spring ball.

“I thought we finally practiced — I mean play in and play out, day in and day out — with all the things that go into it like we need to practice. So that’s what we need to get back to.”

Archived comments

This Josh Smith thing is really going to hurt Hawkins for years to come. Other recruits are going to see and hear about the spiteful way Hawkins has treated Smith and run when Hawkins comes calling.


6/26/2009 9:07:54 AM

The only door Hawkins will knocking on will be the cellar door..Time for CU to admit they made a huge mistake in hiring this guy. They only way CU can compete on a level as high as the Big 12 is to home grow their players and establish relationships at the local high school level. They cannot attract the elite out of state players…There is nothing for them to do in Boulder!


6/26/2009 9:24:20 AM

Where’s John Tarver or Ward Walsh or Elmer Cook when you need them?


6/26/2009 12:14:43 PM


How was releasing Smith to USC, which has the music program Smith wanted “spiteful”?Smith informed CU that he wanted to pursue a new music major CU doesn’t offer.It is my understanding that he also cited a reason for leaving that he wanted to be closer to home, in SoCal.I believe USC is the only SoCal school that has both, so it sounds like Smith got exactly what he wanted.

If Josh simply wanted to go play at another program, I’m sure that Hawk would have allowed him to leave as he has allowed other players to transfer.You’re not helping anybody here trying to make something up that doesn’t exist.

GDB-What’s your basis for the statement that Hawkins was a mistake hire?If it’s lack of wins, I’ll give you that.However, I truly think we need to give him 1-2 more years to make that determination, if it’s based on wins alone.If Hawk gets 8+ regular season wins this year, and a bowl victory, with the level of experience he’ll have, people will be saying he has turned the corner and will expect 10+ wins the following year.

Furthermore, do you even listen to the players & recruits?When has anyone ever said that there’s something wrong in the locker room/attitude at CU?Well, they havn’t since Hawkins has been there.Plus, with the faculty environment at CU, Hawkins has been the perfect fit.

Finally, your complete ignorance of anything CU football is evident by your statement that CU can’t compete for elite out of state players.Why don’t you go take a look at our classes from the last two years and see how many 4 and 5 star recruits we got from out of state.You’ll see A LOT.Obviously you know nothing about CU football and your statements should be taken with a grain of salt, if at all.


6/26/2009 1:15:37 PM

We need Monte Huber, Pearl Street Paul Arndt, John Farler, Herb Orvis, Bud Magrum, Charlie Davis, JV Cain, Bo Matthews, Jon Keyworth, Mike Bynum, Bobby and Dick Anderson, Phil and Hale Irwin, and where’s Freddie Lima when we need him?


6/26/2009 7:24:21 PM

Bring Jeff Knapple back, with James Mayberry, Mark Koncar, Billy Waddy, Steve Gaunty, Matt Miller,and don’t forget about the “Weekend Warrior,” Billy Drake.


6/26/2009 7:28:42 PM

In other words, get some players, Hawk.

Instead of “Hawk Love,” how about we’d love it if Hawk got some players.

Let’s bring Dan Kelly back to scramble, even with the broken navicular.

But next time, don’t bring Joe Duenas in to fake the pitch and cut up field until after Charlie Davis rushed for 400 instead of the 342 against Okie State.


6/26/2009 7:32:59 PM

Bring back “Grid-a-phone.”

Ken Penfold Grid-a-phone!


6/26/2009 7:36:26 PM

Bufflance – Hawkins is being “spiteful” because he’s trying to end Smith’s career for having the temerity to leave Hawkins’ program.

Everyone understands that “releasing” Josh to USC is like releasing him to the NE Patriots. If Josh’s options are confined to USC he will never play again.

Hawkins knows that and so do recruits!


6/26/2009 10:16:04 PM

“Ken Penfold grid-a-phone”-talk about ‘dating yourself’!LOL!


Great show.

Hosted by the late Rusy Schaeffer…used to call him almost every week.

Yep, those were the days.

I sound like a grampa….ahhhh!

But I digress…

Hey all ye Buff “faithful”…where’s the faith?

Ye of ‘fair weather’ fandom.

Yes, talk is cheap.Where have we heard bold words on CU football before, and thought their purveyor was nuts?Could it have been a guy named McCartney, when he so insanely placed the ‘rival’ tag on the evil red hoard?


And what happened?Yeah!

What harm could it do?

If he’s wrong, he’s wrong.

What if he’s right?

I bet every nay-saying fair weather whiner will be ever vociferously in his corner then.

Shame on thee of such little faith.

For all of us black & gold bleeders, it will be business as usual.


6/27/2009 7:45:19 AM