No excuses?

Indeed. There is no excuse for what happened to the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday.

The Buffs were a) humiliated; B) embarrassed; c) outclassed, outplayed and outcoached; or d) all of the above.

The answer is obvious. That`s "d" as in dreadful -- especially in light of what was supposed to be a new, improved version of the Buffs.

There was nothing new Saturday. It was the same old Buffs playing the same old tune, and CU`s coaching staff powerless to even slow the carnage.

Cal handed Colorado its 13th straight road loss, and did so in a fashion that`s become far, far too familiar to CU fans. The Bears took advantage of abundant Colorado mistakes early, opened up a huge lead by the half, then coasted to a 52-7 win.

Mistakes? Not enough time or space to list them all, but the CliffsNotes version:

Nine penalties. A punt fielded on the 5-yard line, a mistake that set the tone for the entire game. Five turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown. A missed field goal. Six quarterback sacks allowed.

And a defense that played gamely early, but finally wilted under the pressure that never, ever seemed to abate.

Saturday was a whole new level of ugly, even for the Dan Hawkins era, and it immediately reopened the questions surrounding the head coach`s future. If Hawkins picked up any job security equity with CU`s season-opening win over Colorado State, he spent it all -- and then some -- on Saturday.

This one wasn`t a step back to square one. The Buffs couldn`t see square one today with binoculars.

This was a step back that will revive the howls from the fan base and unleash the hounds with a renewed vengeance.

Even worse, the damage extended far beyond the field of play on Saturday. A huge contingent of Colorado fans -- judged by some to be the largest group of CU supporters at a road game in years -- arrived with great anticipation and left greatly disappointed. Colorado`s hopes of building momentum for its eventual move to the Pac-10 could still come to fruition, but that excitement was no doubt tempered dramatically by Saturday`s performance.Things to clean up? Seriously?

Colorado`s coaches should start with the mess the Buffaloes deposited on the Memorial Stadium turf and go from there.

This one isn`t on the players. The burden of Saturday`s disaster lies directly on the shoulders of Hawkins and his staff.

No team -- especially a team in its fifth year under the same head coach -- should get smacked around 52-7. No team with this many seniors and this much experience should commit enough errors to make an intramural team blush.

That`s coaching.

(OK, historical note: It actually has happened before with the Buffs. In 1992, with Colorado and Nebraska tied at No. 8 in the national polls, the Buffs dropped a 52-7 nailbiter in Lincoln. But by then, CU`s coach had a little more of that job security equity in his backpocket. He could afford the occasional belly flop.)

But in this era of parity, on a day when James Madison beat Virginia Tech and South Dakota beat Minnesota, a team allegedly on its way up shouldn`t look so horribly outmatched.

One thing is certain: the calls for Hawkins` removal will increase exponentially.

The schedule says there are 10 games remaining in the season. Strictly speaking, it means the possibility exists that this team could rally and make Saturday`s loss a distant memory.

Realistically, however, such an occurrence appears highly unlikely.

Once again, this is a season and a program on the brink. It means CU`s administration must now be on alert. From president Bruce Benson on down, CU officials must seriously begin the process of deciding where this program goes next. They must have a plan in place and be ready to execute it at the first prudent moment if this season continues down the road the Buffs traveled on Saturday.

They have no other choice.