Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer ( PAUL AIKEN )

Brian Cabral held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at the Dal Ward Center.

Mike Bohn did not attend. There were not any black and gold balloons or streamers decorating the podium. Most of the chairs set up for the media were empty.

Colorado's current head coach -- despite restoring some of the pride and tradition to the struggling Buffaloes during a 2-1 finish following Dan Hawkins' firing -- is obviously still considered just an "interim" leader of these young men by the administration.

Although appreciative for the opportunity to interview for the full-time position on Monday, Cabral sounded like a Buff who was ready to roam somewhere else after a 36-year love affair with CU.

"I've had an incredible ride here. I wouldn't give any of it back," Cabral said. "I also know that one day eventually it's going to have to end. All good things have to come to an end. ... There are times I put the key in the door to open up the building to get in and I'm like, 'One of these days ...'"

If the athletic director and the search committee were blown away by Cabral's coaching down the stretch or his presentation to them, then a different kind of press conference would have been called.

In some ways, CU could be passing on the perfect candidate. Cabral is a loyal, passionate, experienced Buff who has proven to be an excellent coach and recruiter.


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No one has been around the program longer than Cabral, a star linebacker for Bill Mallory from 1974-77 and an assistant for 22 years under Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel, Gary Barnett and Hawkins.

During the countless staff meetings over the years, Cabral always envisioned himself sitting in the CU head coach's chair at some point in his career.

It appears that dream will have to be realized somewhere else. Perhaps at Northern Colorado next fall. Or after serving as a defensive coordinator at a major program for a few seasons.

"I'd like to think this opportunity will create opportunities for me to become a head coach," said Cabral, who rallied the physically and emotionally beaten and battered Buffs to wins over Iowa State and Kansas State before the season-ending loss at Nebraska. "That has always been my desire, that has always been my goal. Hard to believe for a guy that stayed in one place for so long being a position coach."

Cabral said the search committee gave him a fair opportunity to present his plan for Colorado football as it makes the transition to the Pac-12. Hopefully, Dr. David Clough, Dr. Robert Boswell, Dr. Elizabeth Bradley and the other intelligent, non-football people helping Bohn with the decision aren't over thinking the room.

When asked what Hawkins' biggest downfall was after leaving wild success at Boise State to fall flat on his face at CU, Cabral noted: "He probably wasn't sure what he was getting into."

Eric Bieniemy, like Cabral, understands the challenges at CU and makes a lot of sense. The Minnesota Vikings running backs coach is a solid candidate who bleeds black and gold and can recruit with the best of them.

Same story with Jon Embree, another ex-Buff who has also coached at CU and is currently an NFL assistant.

The Buffs would certainly be back in the national spotlight if McCartney were hired for a second tour of duty. But not necessarily because the team would be playing in the Rose Bowl anytime soon.

Cabral agrees with many of the season ticket holders, boosters and anonymous message board geniuses that the next head coach should be a member of the CU family.

"The tradition ... you don't understand it until you've gone through it," he said. "How do you pass on something you don't really understand?"

How do you pass on Brian Cabral?

Hopefully not because you've found another "home run hire" somewhere else.

Cabral leading the Buffs onto the field for the 2011 opener at Hawaii -- where he was raised before finding a new home in Boulder -- would be a great story.

But the writing was already on the wall during Tuesday's press conference as Cabral spoke in reflective tones about his amazing run at CU.

"I've never had to interview for anything. And my first interview is for the head coaching position at the University of Colorado? How does that happen?" Cabral wondered aloud. "It doesn't happen. For some reason it did and I was like, 'Yeah, I'll take it. I like this.' ...

"I've been very fortunate."