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reflections on the descent into football oblivion

Discussion in 'Colorado Football Message Board' started by Liver, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. Liver

    Liver modded mod Club Member Junta Member

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    college football fans often ask me how CU ended up here. how did we fall from the ranks of the elite to this level of abject failure? how could it happen?

    i find that i have a difficult time concisely explaining how it all went wrong. it is easy to blame dan hawkins. and, oh, do i blame dan hawkins. he was a total disaster-- just an absolutely horrific coach at this level. but, i wonder about several key milestones in the last 17 years that, arguably, have set us on a nearly inevitable path to destruction. was it any one thing or a series of things that lead us here? i don't know. but, i offer this history of moments in time that i think impacted the program and helped to send us here.

    1994. Mac resigns. the program is at the historical height of its power. CU had its pick of replacement coaches. it was one of the premier jobs in the nation. CU decides to limit the search to internal candidates only, thereby avoiding even interviewing the proven and successful pool of coaches around the country. the finalists are bob simmons and rick neuheisal. neu wows the hiring committee and gets the job, despite never having ever been a coordinator. simmons moves on to the hc job at okie state, where he shows only a few flashes before he is fired after just a few seasons. CU power rating on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being elite and 1 being a perennial loser: 9.5.

    1998. skippy sneaks off to seattle. the program has dropped a notch. it is no longer a top 5 program. but, it is still a solid top 15 program by reputation. skippy leaves some elite talent but a lot of holes in the trenches. CU decides to "go big" on the next coach. it hires gary kubiak, who accepts the job. a press conference is scheduled to announce the hiring and kubiak gets cold feet. CU is scrambling and wants to move quickly. gary barnett, who had also interviewed for the job and had been an assistant at CU is hired and vows that CU will "return to dominance." CU power rating: 8

    2001. after fits and starts, barnett finally has things going at CU. CU wins the big 12 and comes within a fraction of a point of playing for the national championship. CU has a top 10 recruiting class coming in. the "scandal" hits. barnett and the whole CU leadership mishandle it in their own unique ways. the damage runs deep. barnett survives, barely, but draconian recruiting restrictions are put into place and his internal support is nearly gone. the CU president, athletic director, and chancellor get whacked in the process. CU power rating: 7.5.

    2005. CU starts the season 7-2 and is ranked in the top 20. barnett is lobbying for a new contract, arguing that he can do it with smoke and mirrors, despite all the recruiting restrictions. the talent level has dropped off dramatically and CU is getting clobbered by every elite team it plays, but, up until this point, it is still beating the teams it is "supposed" to beat, mostly. the team free-falls in the last 5 games of the season, culminating with a 70-3 loss to texas in the b12 championship game that clearly illustrated the talent gap. the new athletic director fires barnett and vows to bring in someone with a clean slate. hawkins is hired after a strange, limited, and somewhat furtive coaching search. CU powr rating: 5.

    2006. the hawkins "error" begins. from losing to montana state to not being able to recruit elite athletes and keep them enrolled, nearly everything that can go wrong with a program, does so. CU power rating: 3.5.

    2009. it is abundantly clear to everyone that hawkins is the wrong guy for the job. national sports media universally reports that hawkins will be fired at the end of the season. CU leadership intervenes and he is retained to finish out the last year on his contract. CU is recruiting at the level of third tier non-bcs programs. CU power rating: 2.

    2010. hawkins is finally fired. no longer an elite program and no longer considered a plum job, CU struggles to interest established coaches. certain big names are rumored to be interested but once they take a closer look, none can be enticed. CU turns to jon embree who has never been a head coach or even a coordinator, but has deep CU ties. he hires an "all CU" type of staff. in the short time they have, they are unable to do much on the recruiting front. and, they lack coordinator experience across the board. CU power rating: 1.

    from elite to horrible, in just 17 short years.
     
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  2. leftybuff

    leftybuff Iconoclast Club Member

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    Now hitting the bottle...
     
  3. SpacemanSpiff

    SpacemanSpiff Club Member Club Member

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    I think that is a very accurate assessment, and well said, as usual Liver. Seems like I should rep you for your effort, but I feel weird repping someone for laying out the story of how we went from national relevence to suck.
     
  4. Walter White

    Walter White Member

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    I think the key, as simple as it may sound, is firing the wrong guy as quickly as possible. That's an art, not a science. If your guy is not THE guy then you gotta get him out as quickly as possible. The spiral down is an absolutel killer. It builds on itself and the ripples last years into the future. I don't know, kind of like a bench press. If, unknowlingly, you have too much weight on the bar you can't get it too far to your chest. Once you pass a certain point it gets exponentially harder.
     
  5. J.R. Ewing

    J.R. Ewing Club Member Club Member

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    My family repatriated from England in 1993 when I was a HS freshman. That's when I started following CU football. I had no idea what I was in for.
     
  6. chipwich

    chipwich Administrator Club Member Junta Member

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    Someone just walked by my desk and asked me why I am crying.
     
  7. Lt.Col.FrankSlade

    Lt.Col.FrankSlade Well-Known Member

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    I think you rank CU's "zenith" a little bit high, in the grand scheme of college football.

    But it is certainly a football program that has fallen on hard times.
     
  8. Crash Davis

    Crash Davis MA....THE MEATLOAF!!! Club Member

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    Money and facilities have to be mentioned somewhere as well. About a decade ago the AD began running in the red at pretty much the worst possible time: just as the nuclear arms race of gawdy new facilities and stadium facelifts began sweeping across college sports. With no cash on hand, the football program has gotten very little the last 10 years outside of some minor cosmetic projects. We have now fallen behind and have facilities that are well below average for a BCS school. Meanwhile a large segment of our fan base thinks that having mountains nearby is somehow supposed to make up for these other shortcomings....
     
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  9. Walter White

    Walter White Member

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    I think a lot of that could have been overcome if Hawk would have been booted two years earlier. Extending Hawk was the #1 factor. Nothing else is close.
     
  10. Crash Davis

    Crash Davis MA....THE MEATLOAF!!! Club Member

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    Money is also the reason Hawk was kept as long as he was.
     
  11. Quattro

    Quattro Banned BANNED Club Member

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    Seriously, **** off you Sooner piece of ****.
     
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  12. Walter White

    Walter White Member

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    Because he was extended.
     
  13. Lt.Col.FrankSlade

    Lt.Col.FrankSlade Well-Known Member

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    Hindsight being 20/20, the October 2008 extension, when Hawkins was 11-19 overall at CU, was probably the fatal blow.
     
  14. SpacemanSpiff

    SpacemanSpiff Club Member Club Member

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    I disagree. The way I read that summary, I'm not sure there was one fatal blow. I think it was more like "death by a thousand cuts."
     
  15. Lt.Col.FrankSlade

    Lt.Col.FrankSlade Well-Known Member

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    Must have hit a nerve there.

    CU had a fantastic run in the late 1980's and early 1990's and is #19 on the number of all-time college football game wins.

    But in the grand scheme of college football, Colorado has never been on the level of Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Ohio State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Texas, etc. If those schools are a "10" Colorado is probably in the 7.5-8.5 range.
     
  16. Ralphandler1

    Ralphandler1 Member

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    I agree with everything right up til embree. You cannot say he cannot recruit.... In fact for only having 17 days to recruit last year he stole 4 recruits from other pac12 schools which was pretty damn impressive. AND he already has better talent in this years class than Hawk had for 4 years and far better than last year too. So he is making moves in the right direction. I don't think he was a last ditch coaching hire.... I think he is exactly what CU needs for coaching style, personality and loyalty and honestly we are pretty damn lucky to get him. He has brought more NFL coaching experience to Boulder than any other school in the country and we should judge him after he has had more than 4 months to get the Hawk disaster cleared up. But right up til that point I love the analysis.
     
  17. Walter White

    Walter White Member

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    I don't see it that way. With a school like CU you're going to ebb and flow over the years. CU does not have the recruiting pipeline to be in the mix every year. That's just a reality. The Hawk extension took and ebb and made it into a death spiral.

     
  18. BuffsNYC

    BuffsNYC Uptown Club Member

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    Good write-up.

    I would go back even further, though.

    Fairbanks was hired away from the NFL. This hire, as I understand it, was bankrolled and pushed by big money boosters who were intent on winning the Big 8 against Oklahoma and Nebraska. Since Fairbanks went belly-up, CU hasn't hired an expensive coach. The only coach who had already been a head coach in big time college football was Barnett (and he was the second choice and came from the Northwestern, the lowest rung of big time football). The weasel and Embree were position coaches when hired. Mac was a coordinator. Hawkins was head coach at a small time program.

    If you accept Liver's hypothesis that CU had it's pick of coaches in 1994 (I can't say either way) then it was beyond retarded to hire Neuheisal. I've heard several explanations for the choice, from money concerns to Judith Albino being in love with the weasel. I think that the the Fairbanks affair has had a lot to do with CU's subsequent hirings, meaning that there was no way that CU was going down that road again. Even in 1994, 14 years removed from the Fairbanks taint, CU was not going to recruit and pay a big name coach because of what Fairbanks had wrought.
     
  19. Jens1893

    Jens1893 Moderator Club Member Junta Member

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    just one minor correction, but halk was under contract through the 2012 season
     
  20. torerobuff

    torerobuff Dancing is forbidden Club Member

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    Liver, A very good piece, but I don't think its entirely fair to the 2001 team. Perhaps the 2001 season should be separated from when the "scandal" broke. Its hard for me to think that the team after that Big XII championship game would be rated lower on your power scale than when the Weasel skipped town. The program obviously takes a very big hit as soon as all the scandal things started happening, but I feel like that 2001 team should be an apex point, not a spot on a continuous sliding scale.
     
  21. 89Buff

    89Buff New Member

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    You didn't lay nearly enough blame at the feet of neweasel. People always forget that the initial run-in w/ the Boulder DA regarding a recruit's misdeeds happened during his regime, thereby putting the team "on notice".
     
  22. Liver

    Liver modded mod Club Member Junta Member

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    i didn't say embree couldn't recruit-- -i said they couldn't in the short time they had. also, it is a fact that he lacks experience at the coordinator or hc level as do his key guys. they are going through some growing pains as a result. that doesn't mean i think he's the wrong guy for the job-- it is too soon to say.
     
  23. fatbuff

    fatbuff Well-Known Member

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    Not bad, but I think you give too much credence to Barney, and too little to the hiring of Hawkins. Barney had one season flash of greatness, and that is it. That team didnt belong in the NC with the defense that we had, and the perception of the key wins (NU,UT) were enhanced by not having wins like that in a long time.

    Hawkins was the hot coach at the time he was hired, and no amount of hindsight can change that. If we didnt take him some other program certainly would have, and I think that the process may have been rushed because of that. Hawkins had a pretty bare cupboard himself, he just never got it stocked. We still had some credibility when Hawkins was hired, but that is long gone. If Embo busts, nothing short of an bottomless check book will get us a premier coach.
     
  24. GoBuffs08

    GoBuffs08 Well-Known Member

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    All problems start at the "scandal" and with CU admin, AD and Barnett and how they handled the entire situation horribly beginning the slide. As soon as the "scandal" is over and CU admin has punished the football team and AD we tack on training table-gate and more restrictions handed down by the CU admin the demise is in full swing.

    In the attempt to "fix" things CU admin and AD proceed to go on the cheap when hiring DII. There is zero coaching search, and at the time Embree was a candidate he is not even invited to Boulder, but simply interviewed at DIA. This was the first of many failures of Bohn.

    Keeping DII after year 3 is the clear indication that the university does not care about the success of the football program. But not only do they not fire him after year 3 and his 2-6 conference record, he sucks in year 4 with another 2-6 conference record and they still keep his worthless ass around. Telling everyone across the nation that CU football is now a national joke. Just to cement the program into the depths of national joke they bring DII back for year 5 telling fans to STFU and buy tickets and support the team, telling recruits and other coaches everywhere that CU is small-time with no budget and no hope.

    It is too early into Embree & CO for me to blame them for anything. I do think additional coaching changes need to be made, including time for Cabral to retire, and demote/replace Brown.

    What I really want to see is some type of major public commitment from CU admin for the football program. We have this horrible schedule to make up for lack of TV money this year. Why have we not announced any stadium or facility upgrades based on the guaranteed money we will be getting starting next year with the PAC TV contracts?
     
  25. Ralphandler1

    Ralphandler1 Member

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    Ok fair enough just misread that I suppose. But I think him pulling conor woods from UT and the descent talent he has committed now shows he has some great recruiting ability... hopefully he can gain some momentum with it
     
  26. Jens1893

    Jens1893 Moderator Club Member Junta Member

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    No, but your constant Sooner **** slobbering while talking about CU like it´s the retarded, redheaded stepchild that you´d rather hide in the closet but can´t is getting really annoying. You´re either in or you aren´t, but you talk about CU like it´s the retarded family you were born into and don´t want anything to do with now that you´ve married up into the OU family.
     
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  27. Darth Snow

    Darth Snow Hawaiian Buffalo Club Member Junta Member

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    Embree does one thing I do not question: Evaluate talent. With little time, he got a class that is already contributing. Sure, it looks like he missed on one or two (Dorman and Burnette), but it is damn hard to find QBs that late in the process, and desperation was the reason. Wood and Dillon definitely look like they will erase that mistake.

    Now, if only we can show enough on the field so that he can start landing some of the guy sthat EVERYONE knows are gonna be great instead of the middling prospects that he recruits harder than other guys.

    In short: Embree's 3 star guys >>>> HaLk's 3 star guys.
     
  28. Lt.Col.FrankSlade

    Lt.Col.FrankSlade Well-Known Member

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    I was just reading about that. There is a book called "Scoreboard, Baby: A Story of College Football, Crime, and Complicity" which give a pretty detailed account of Neuheisel's hiring, his time at CU, his courting by UW, and his general coaching career.

    I had forgotten entirely about the recruiting party with the teenage girls and the allegations of rape from early 1998 - and Tharp subsequently finding out about it in the paper. Who was the DA back in 1998?
     
  29. Lt.Col.FrankSlade

    Lt.Col.FrankSlade Well-Known Member

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    Oh go **** yourself Jens. I am more "in" CU than you will ever be.
     
  30. Darth Snow

    Darth Snow Hawaiian Buffalo Club Member Junta Member

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    This discussion about who is more "in CU" is disturbing.
     

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