Darian Hagan has survived numerous coaching changes during his time on the Colorado football staff, but that doesn’t make the latest change any easier to take.
“I’m a little unsure, because you never know what could happen,” said Hagan, the Buffaloes’ running backs coach.
One of the greatest players in CU history, Hagan led the Buffaloes to their only national title in 1990 as a brilliant option quarterback.
In the mid-1990s, he returned to CU as the director of the Alumni C Club. He left CU in 1998 for a career outside of football, but then chose to pursue coaching. He was hired as an offensive assistant on Feb. 9, 2005, by then-head coach Gary Barnett.
Barnett was fired after that season, but his replacement, Dan Hawkins, retained Hagan as the running backs coach – a position he held throughout Hawkins’ five-year tenure. After Hawkins was fired, Hagan spent five years off the field. He was the director of player personnel for Jon Embree (2011-12) and director of player development for Mike MacIntyre (2013-15).
In 2016, however, MacIntyre transitioned Hagan back to the role of running backs coach. Hagan has held that role ever since, working for MacIntyre, Mel Tucker and Karl Dorrell.
On Oct. 2, CU fired Dorrell and is currently in the process of hiring a replacement. Hagan has remained at CU through five other coaching transitions and hopes to survive this one, as well.
“I’m a little worried, but at the same time, life goes on,” Hagan said. “You’ve got to keep on living, keep being happy and keep striving for health.
“It’s unknown in this, but the most important thing is I have a great family, I have great family support, so I’m not really worried about anything other than not wanting to leave Colorado. Everything comes to an end and hopefully there’s no end in sight.”
When the Buffs (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) host No. 14 Utah (8-3, 6-2) on Saturday at Folsom Field (2:10 p.m., Pac-12 Network), Hagan will hit a milestone. It will mark the 300th game in which he’s been a part of at CU in some capacity, either as a player, coach or staff member.
According to CU, Hagan will become just the ninth person in program history to reach the 300-game mark. Only two others – Kayo Lam and Brian Cabral – were players.
During his time at running backs coach, Hagan has mentored several stars, including Jarek Broussard, Phillip Lindsay, Travon McMillian and Rodney Stewart.
Senior Alex Fontenot hasn’t been that type of star in his career, but he’s been a grinder for six years and he’s playing perhaps his best football since returning from a chest injury three games ago.
“I’m super excited (for Fontenot),” Hagan said. “For a guy who has been here six years, been through a lot of different changes, a lot of ups and downs injuries, coaching changes; for a guy to never lose sight of what he wanted and that was to play football and get a degree and in the last three games go out on your own terms, that’s big.”
Fontenot has rushed for 219 yards in the last three games, averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
This season, Fontenot, who missed six games with an injury, is second on the team with 304 yards. In his career, he has rushed for 1,547 yards, which ranks 29th in program history. He needs 66 yards on Saturday to finish in the top 25.
Lyle wrapping up
Senior safety Anthony Lyle, a graduate of Legacy High School in Broomfield, is one of the many players finishing their careers on Saturday.
Lyle, who began his career at Eastern Michigan, walked on at CU in 2019. He’s been a special teams standout and was played on scholarship this season.
“I took advantage of every opportunity that I was presented with, and I felt like I attacked it with 110% effort,” he said. “So I felt like yeah, I’ve accomplished what I wanted to accomplish, the things that have been given to me.
“It flew by. It’s just one of those things where it’s like getting to the end now you realize, did I take advantage of every single day, every opportunity that I have? So you get to sit back and kind of reflect on it. It’s just a surreal feeling, and I’m just ready for the next step in life.”