University of Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn announced Tuesday morning that Dan Hawkins has been relieved of his duties as head football coach of the Buffaloes effective immediately.
Long-time assistant coach Brian Cabral will serve as interim head coach the remainder of the 2010 season. The Buffaloes are currently 3-6, with an 0-5 record in the Big 12 Conference, with three games remaining. CU would become bowl eligible if it were to win out; the Buffs finish the year with home games this Saturday against Iowa State and next week versus Kansas State, and wrap the regular season the Friday after Thanksgiving at Nebraska.
"We collectively believed that it was important to provide the opportunity for Dan as head coach and his current staff to pull things together, and things looked bright just one month ago after we opened with a 3-1 record," Bohn said. "However, things have gone downhill from there. While we recognize the progress that we have made in several areas during nearly five years under Dan, the negativity and divisiveness that is associated with the current leadership has become detrimental and is beyond repair to our current enterprise and it's time to make a change."
The team was informed of the change Tuesday morning at the regular full-team meeting ahead of practice.
Bohn said a search committee would be in place by the end of the week if not sooner to conduct a national search to name a replacement. While there is no established timetable, Bohn is fully aware that coaches can begin making in-home recruiting visits on December 1.
Hawkins was hired on December 16, 2005, and coached the Buffaloes for the better part of five seasons, compiling a 19-39 overall record in 58 games. There were several high water points in his tenure, topped by a dramatic come-from-behind 27-24 win over No. 3 Oklahoma in 2007, along with a wild 65-51 victory over Nebraska later that same year and against a ranked West Virginia team in 2008, which improved CU's record to 3-0. The program appeared on its way up and earned Hawkins a two-year extension to his original five-year contract, extending him through December 31, 2012.
But since then, the program has struggled, especially on the road, where CU is nursing school record losing streaks both overall (16 games) and in conference games (12). Colorado is 8-22 in its last 30 games, including a 4-17 record in Big 12 Conference play, including last Saturday's 52-45 loss at Kansas where the Jayhawks scored the game's final 35 points in the last 11 minutes to rally from a 45-17 deficit. The Buffaloes qualified for one bowl game in his tenure, the 2007 Independence Bowl, where after falling behind 27-0 to Alabama, CU made a game of it before falling, 30-24.
"I fully support Mike Bohn's decision to relieve Dan Hawkins of his duties immediately and appoint Brian Cabral interim head coach of the Buffs," CU-Boulder Chancellor Dr. Philip P. DiStefano said. "I believe this is the right decision first and foremost for our players, who have worked hard and endured much this season, but also for our alumni, donors and fans, who have stood by the team over the last five years. Our focus should now be on supporting Coach Cabral and the team, finishing this season as strongly as we can, and setting our sights on obtaining a new head coach as we head into our inaugural season in the Pac-12 Conference."
"I've met some tremendously special people and had some fantastic experiences during my time here at Colorado," Hawkins said. "Unfortunately, I was not able to bring the wins that so many Buff faithful wish for and deserve. My biggest pain comes from not being able to see the joy and happiness on our players faces on more occasions following a victory. CU has a great group of young men running out behind Ralphie every Saturday, those guys have worked very hard in the classroom, off the field, and on the field and have earned the right to win. I want the Buffs to experience that special feeling.
"I'd like to thank all the great people who surround and support the program, and especially those people on our staff who touch the players on a day-to-day basis; they are special," Hawkins added. "Please come out and support the University f Colorado football program and the players in the last two home games, as well as on the road in Lincoln, they need and deserve your encouragement. In the future I wish nothing but the best for CU as it moves in to the Pac-12, I hope everyone concerned with the program will pitch in and support the program on the path to another national championship."
Colorado, along with Utah, is joining the 10 current members of the Pacific-10 Conference to form the Pac-12 next July 1.
The 54-year old Cabral, CU's associate head coach who tutors the inside linebackers, joined the CU staff as a graduate assistant in 1989 and was named the full-time linebackers coach the following season, Colorado's national championship year. He is the longest-tenured assistant coach in school history at 21 seasons, and served as interim head coach one previous time in the spring of 2004, when then-head coach Gary Barnett was suspended.
Hawkins is the first coach in CU's 121-year football history to be relieved of his duties at any point during the regular season. In 1962, Bud Davis announced to his team that he was stepping down the morning of Colorado's final game of the season against Air Force; in 1994, Bill McCartney told coaches he was retiring the morning before the season finale versus Iowa State, informing the team afterward. He remained on to coach the Buffs to a Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame while the school promoted quarterbacks & receivers coach Rick Neuheisel to head coach. And in 2005, Gary Barnett was dismissed after losing to the Big 12 Championship game to Texas and was replaced by defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz on an interim basis for the Champs Sports Bowl.
Colorado closes the regular season with home games against Iowa State (Nov. 13), where the school will honors its eighth class for induction into the CU Athletic Hall of Fame, and Kansas State (Senior Day, Nov. 20), followed by a road game at Nebraska the Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26).