J ust a few days ago -- granted, it seems like an eternity, given the week`s events -- Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen said, "2010 starts right now."

There`s no way Hansen could have known just how true his words were when he spoke.

Today`s season finale will not be Colorado`s last look at the Dan Hawkins era. The referendum on Hawk`s future came to an end on Thursday, when CU athletic director Mike Bohn delivered the surprising news:

Hawkins will return to the Buffs` sidelines for a fifth season. No matter what happens today when the Nebraska Cornhuskers visit Folsom Field, CU`s head coach for 2010 has been decided.

Yes, I like the decision. I like the fact that when Colorado officials told Dan Hawkins four years ago that he`d have five years to rebuild CU`s football fortunes, they meant it. Say what you will -- and judging from my e-mail inbox, you have a lot to say -- I can appreciate a group of administrators who stick to their word.

I realize that in the world of sports, contracts often don`t mean much. Irealize that situations change. Coaches leave before their contracts are up as often as they are fired. It`s the nature of the biz.

But in a day and age when politicians promise us one thing and deliver another, when the people we trust with stuff that really matters (such as our money) go back on their word faster than you can say "government bailout," it`s nice to see a promise made four years ago still be good.

Understand this was by no means solely Bohn`s decision. While CU chancellor Phil DiStefano insisted this week that the final determination would be made by his athletic director, you can bet that there was plenty of input from above.

Remember, this is a school whose top officials have been preaching fiscal responsibility to every corner of every campus for months. Those same officials are in no mood to have one of those corners writing million-dollar checks to change football coaches. Neither are those officials excited at the prospect of going hat in hand to the legislature, pleading poverty and asking for more funding -- and then having those legislators read about a million-dollar check going to a former football coach.

It`s economics, politics and a little hope all rolled into one.

Now, back to Hansen`s statement.

If 2010 starts today, feel free to start the clock. It`s ticking on Dan Hawkins and his staff. While Hawkins insisted all year that he was not worried about his future (and yep, we should have listened), I`m betting the feeling won`t be the same next year.

Remember at the beginning of the season, when optimism still flowed and Bohn insisted there was no hot seat for Hawkins?

Warm it up. Today`s game against Nebraska won`t count against CU`s 2010 record, but it will be the last thing CU fans remember from this season for months to come. If the Buffs lay an egg today -- and that`s always a possibility with this team -- it will be a long offseason.

Actually, it will likely be a long offseason no matter what happens today. The hounds will be nipping at Hawkins` heels from this point forward.

And, rest assured, Bohn, DiStefano and every other CU official with an e-mail inbox will hear from unhappy fans. From their point of view, Sept. 4, 2010, can`t come soon enough (yes, that`s the season opener vs. Colorado State at Invesco Field).

As for today`s game?

It`s one last chance for CU`s underclassmen to head into the offseason with something to feel good about. A chance for CU`s seniors to walk away with heads up, knowing that they left on a high note.

And, it`s one last chance for CU`s fans to look back on 2009 -- and hope that 2010 produces much better results.