"I am the hawk and there's blood on my feathers." When John Denver wrote those lyrics way back in the seventies, I don't expect that he imagined that the blood would be the hawk's own. I am referring to Dan "The Hawk" Hawkins, the now former coach of the University of Colorado football team. Hired five seasons ago as a refreshing change of pace from the scurrilous Gary Barnett, The Hawk brought a new optimism to a beleaguered program. Fifty-eight games later, he had won only nineteen of them. The optimism that was once mile-high reached sea-level this year, and last week, it went underwater.
The Hawk had his team up 45 to 17 in the fourth quarter against perennial also-ran Kansas, and the Golden Buffaloes ended up losing 45 to 52. They gave up thirty-five points in less than fifteen minutes. It was the biggest collapse in the one hundred and twenty-one years of college football at the university. My university. My alma mater. The one I attended and the place I have watched more football games with the possible exception of my living room. After this debacle, the athletic director decided to pull the lever, cut the string, and otherwise end the suffering of Buff fans across the globe.
All that being said, I can't argue the specifics of that decision. Even a losing program would be a nice change from a program that encouraged ugly behavior from both players and coaches. But college football is a business, and nothing succeeds like success. They had to let the Hawk fly. Now they're going to pay him two million dollars not to coach. This comes on top of the three million dollars they paid Gary Barnett not to coach. That is what contracts are for. It protects the coach from the university, and in this case it protects the university from having the money to hire a new coach. I mention this because I continue to send the University of Colorado a pittance now and then to keep their college of arts and sciences in paper and pencils. I won't be receiving a plaque or a mention in the program for any arts performance. I send them money because I appreciate that they gave me a degree, way back when.
I failed miserably as a student, for a while. When I failed a Basic Drawing class, mostly because I stopped going and neglected to drop it, the powers that be put me on academic probation. I am grateful for this opportunity to square myself away as a student and get my life back on track before they simply cut me adrift. However, at no point was there any discussion of giving me a couple year's tuition and sending me on my way. I had failed, and I was given a chance to put together a transcript that would allow me to graduate just a few years later with a modicum of respect. No cash settlement, but I did get to keep the tassel. I paid for that. Maybe next time, I should read my contract more closely.