In a meeting of head coaches in the Colorado athletic department earlier this summer, a senior staff member asked the Buffs` head football coach if there was one thing the department could do to help his program succeed this season, what would it be? Multiple sources in the room that day told the Camera Hawkins responded by saying the school could give him a contract extension.
Hawkins confirmed the story after practice Wednesday. When asked why he chose to answer the question the way he did, he said, "Just the continuity, stability."
What about the idea that having three full seasons remaining on the current deal already provides continuity?
"To some degree," Hawkins said.
Coaches and administrators had been discussing ways to strengthen the department and each program, including facilities, academic support, league affiliation, growing the donor base and improving fan support on game days.
Sources said Hawkins` remark surprised everyone who was present, including athletic director Mike Bohn, who took heavy criticism, along with Chancellor Phil DiStefano and President Bruce Benson, for keeping Hawkins in Boulder following a 3-9 season last fall. Bohn did not respond to the request in the meeting.
Hawkins has gone 16-33 in his first four seasons in Boulder and is undercontract through Jan.
Bohn said he was troubled that conversations from a head coaches meeting were being made public. He said he hasn`t had any discussions with Hawkins about an extension and there are no plans for such a discussion. He said the department is focused on the coming season and creating a game-day environment to support the Buffs at home games.
"Speculation about coach`s tenure is always a delicate issue," Bohn said. "Our process involving approval from the chancellor followed by approval from the Board of Regents is well documented, and I have great confidence and respect for our long-term contracts.
"We support Dan and we will evaluate him and the football program at the end of the season just as we do with all of our coaches."
Hawkins is scheduled to earn $1,461,047 in base salary and routinely achievable incentives this fiscal year. He has further incentives that if all were reached in one season would pay him an additional $550,000. That would include winning a Big 12 championship, going to a Bowl Championship Series bowl game and being named conference and national coach of the year.
Hawkins would earn a $50,000 bonus for winning seven games in a season, guaranteeing a winning regular season, which is something he still hasn`t achieved in Boulder. He earns another $25,000 for winning eight regular season games.
Ten of his 11 peers in the Big 12 earn more than him. Only Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads makes less.
Hawkins was one of the most successful coaches in the nation when he took over the Colorado program in the wake of two scandal-plagued years at the end of former coach Gary Barnett`s tenure. He went 53-11 in five seasons in Boise and had turned down multiple job opportunities before choosing to lead the Buffs.
He has gone from being one of the hottest coaching commodities at the major college level to being one under the most heat to produce wins this season. He spent last year in the same position.
Bohn has been reluctant to identify a specific number of wins that would qualify as a successful season and allow Hawkins to keep his job beyond this fall, but he has been consistent in saying, "It`s a big year for Dan."