Dan Hawkins bid adieu to the University of Colorado today with a heartfelt string of thank yous to just about every group he came into contact with during his five-year tenure in Boulder.
Hawkins was fired Sunday night after his team lost its fifth consecutive game a day earlier by giving up 35
unanswered points in the fourth quarter at Kansas. Hawkins went 19-39 in nearly five full seasons as coach.
Hawkins did not take questions from the media, but he sat in front of microphones in the varsity room at the Dal Ward Center and spoke for nearly 13 minutes, concluding his remarks by quoting author Mark Twain.
"Twenty years from now you'll be more disappointed in the things you did not do than by the things you do do. So throw off the tow lines, sail away from the safe harbor, cast the trade winds in your sails, explore, dream, discover,” Hawkins said quoting Twain. “And that's kind of been my mantra. So I appreciate everything, and hopefully there are good times in the future. God bless you. Go Buffs.”
Hawkins said he is uncertain of his immediate future but he does intend to coach again. In some ways, Hawkins' farewell press conference was eerily similar to one held for Gary Barnett five years earlier. On that day, Barnett said goodbye to CU and said the school and its football program were a “gold mine” for the right coach.
Hawkins echoed that comment.
“So it brings to close the Hawk chapter, but hopefully it's the opening of the national championship chapter that is right around the corner because there is a lot of great things in Colorado and Boulder and the University of Colorado. And hopefully all those things come to light. And not just for football but for everybody and all the sports here.
“There are some really great people with some tremendous values and integrity and doing things right. I will take that with me forever. That has been a blessing to meet all those people and work with all those people.”
Athletic director Mike Bohn said financial terms of a separation agreement with Hawkins are being negotiated by CU attorneys and Hawkins' representatives. Hawkins is owed approximately $2.5 million in guaranteed compensation.
Bohn thanked Hawkins for his professionalism and his service to the school, but said the negativity surrounding the program was too much to overcome. Bohn said Hawkins did everything he could to try to be successful.
“Really ending the negativity was what it was all about,” Bohn said. “The divisiveness and the disenfranchisement of our fans base. ...We just felt it was time to end that.”
Bohn said the department sold 800 tickets to the final two homes games overnight Monday after word leaked out that a coaching change was imminent.
Bohn said a search committee will be formed swiftly and the school will conduct a national search for Hawkins' replacement. He said former coach Bill McCartney is a viable candidate for the job. McCartney has said he has interest in returning to CU.
Chancellor Phil DiStefano, speaking on a conference call after the press conference, said he hopes to hire a coach with BCS level experience. He said it would also be wise to hire someone with roots in the Pac-12 or the Big 12.
Bohn introduced interim coach Brian Cabral, who has been linebackers coach at CU since 1990. Cabral became emotional during his comments and while taking questions about how he will handle the rest of the season. It is the second time he has served as interim head coach at CU, also doing so in spring 2004 when Barnett was suspended.
Cabral said he would like to be given consideration to be Hawkins' replacement. Bohn said he would welcome that and looks forward to talking with Cabral about that. Cabral said he does not view the final three games of this season as his audition.
“My role is to stand in the gap,” he said. “My role is to calm the storm.”
Cabral said he has three goals for the rest of the season: To rally the Buff community, finish well in the classroom and finish the season well for the senior class. He urged Buffs fans to come to Folsom Field this week and next to cheer for the team.
“This community, this university, we need to rally behind these seniors,” he said.
The Buffs host Iowa State at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and wrap up the home schedule Nov. 20 at noon against Kansas State. CU's last game is at Nebraska on Nov. 26.