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.