Bohn moving beyond Hawkins decision

I’ve asked to speak with Mike Bohn more in depth and on the record in the weeks since the school announced it was keeping coach Dan Hawkins around for a fifth season to coach the Colorado football team.

Bohn finally agreed late last week to sit down with me today (Tuesday) for an in-depth interview regarding what happened leading up to the decision,  how it was made, whether it was forced on him or not, where the athletic department and the football program go from here and how he deals with the ramifications.

Then Monday morning Bohn called to cancel. He said he thought the story was old news at this point and didn’t want to bring it up again by talking more about it. I told him I would have to write that and he said he understands I have a job to do.

Silence is a different approach for Bohn. He is normally very willing to engage just about anyone who has any question about CU. He returns phone calls and doesn’t hide from you across the room, the field or the arena like other administrators I have known.

He also mentioned a story I did over the weekend interviewing president Bruce Benson’s spokesman and said it wouldn’t do anyone any good for him to discuss the subject further publicly. The president’s spokesman put the decision to retain Hawkins completely on Bohn and chancellor Phil DiStefano, saying it was made totally at the campus level.

I’ve heard otherwise. I’ve been told by people I trust and who have given me good information in the past, that this was a decision made by Benson in order to preserve some credibility in lobbying the state for more money for higher education. They say Benson didn’t want to face critics who would have asked how the school could afford to pay a coach $3 million not to coach but needs to cut classes or professors or janitors unless it gets more money from the state. The president’s spokesman says that just isn’t true.

All I can do is ask people the questions and write down the answers. If Bohn isn’t going to talk about it any more, then I guess the Q&A he did with the Camera on Thanksgiving will have to suffice as his explanation for now. I should point out that Bohn took at least some responsibility for the decision saying in the Q&A that he never makes any major decision without consulting other campus and CU leaders.

I asked Bohn where he goes from here, and he said he will be working closely with coach Hawkins to make sure the program puts the best, most well-prepared and well-coached team possible on the field next fall. What that will entail is yet to be seen and might not fully unfold until February or even March.

Bohn¬† said he also has some things he is working on to hopefully help repair some of the wounds that have been opened during the football season and in the immediate aftermath of it. He is well aware of how many Colorado fans are disappointed or flat out angry about how the season went. I think he understands he isn’t going to get some of them back until the program begins to win consistently with the current coaches or hires new coaches.

But I also think he and his bosses are mistaken to believe they can just decide not to talk about something and it will go away. That approach never works. In some respects, it was tried here just a few years ago and it led to a new president, chancellor, athletic director and football coach. Though the issues were much more serious than a 16-33 coach keeping his job.

By the way, back in 2005 when all those people were replaced, weren’t we promised a new way forward? I seem to recall transparency being the buzzword at the time. Is this transparency?

We know Bohn was clearly leaning toward making a change in football coaches before he left for Hawaii with the men’s basketball program in late November ( a long-planned trip). Just two days before he left, he assured a group of reporters in the press box at Oklahoma State that no decision about the coaching staff would be made until after the season. He even pointed to the fact that he would be out of town as one reason it didn’t make sense to make any change before the end of the season.

Then he comes back from Hawaii on Thanksgiving Day one day before the Buffs hosted Nebraska and officially announces Hawkins is being retained? He explained the situation was becoming too much of a distraction to the team, a 3-8 team that was about to play its final game of the year, and, albeit against a rival, the outcome was meaningless. There was no bowl game on the line, no chance at a winning record. The last interviews players and coaches did with media that week were done on Monday. Distraction?

My bet is that the issue was becoming too big of a distraction, but in the president’s office not in the locker room.

About kyle

Daily Camera college sports beat writer since 2004. Previous experience covering the University of New Mexico and Denver Nuggets. A Colorado native.
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40 Responses to Bohn moving beyond Hawkins decision

  1. What's the chances that the players – maybe upperclassmen, or everyone who has a RS available, state that they are taking the year off to focus on grades/classes?

  2. gobuffs09 says:

    CU couldn't afford to let Hawkins go. That's the reason he was retained. And the decision was made by the president of CU. But the fault is Bohns for giving hawkins an extension after a 2-10 and 7-5 seaon. Bohn is the problem here and should be fired.

  3. NJBuff says:

    Kyle I love you but how about a citation for me? I was the one saying for the last few months that Hawk came in and preached transparency and yet is more secretive than any other coach. The man won't even put out an injury report!

    • CarlU says:

      Check your facts: there is an injury report EVERY WEEK in the notes on the CU site. Quit making stuff up to support your incorrect point of view. I'm not a huge Hawkins guy right now, but CU is more open than most schools and certainly more then the rest of the Big12 — hell, Kyle's written that numerous times. So don't lie to try and make your point.

      • Buff06 says:

        BS Carl. CU is very closed in regards to injury reports. Half of the games televised (which I'm sure won't be any next year) the announcers joke about how CU's reports injuries.

        • CarlU says:

          Yawn. Produce one time it happened because it did not. You have to be a liberal, because FACTS and LOGIC are coinfusing to a moron such as yourself. Go back and read Ringo's previous account of how open this program is to most other BCS schools. Other than USC and UCLA, no one else is close. FACT—Obama-breath.

          • oz_in_cali says:

            do us all a favor and leave the political commentary for the editorial pages and a.m. radio….your name calling and introduction of political discourse on a sports blog clearly underscore who the real idiot is…stick to the buffs, stick to the facts…

  4. CO_yeti says:

    One of the main reasons why the administration hired Bohn in the first place is because they knew they could push him around. So really this whole mess makes sense.

    Bohn, good luck trying to get support from the fans when no one trusts you at a point when CU needs us the most!

    • BuffsForever says:

      The Administration hired Bohn because he is completely dedicated to running a clean program and he has skin in the game because he has roots in Boulder. You don't see him working a second job like Tharp did with Liquor Mart and making millions. Bohn's whole focus is CU Athletics. Some times you look like a genius and some times sXXX happens.

      • CO_yeti says:

        All that is fine and dandy, but the fact still remains that the administration has Bohn in their pocket. That would be OK except CU's administration has never cared about the state of the athletic department! At some point Bohn needs to stop towing the company line and do what is right for his department.

        P.S. Bohn hasn't had too many "genius" moments. He's helped build the bubble for the football team and broken ground for the basketball practice facility and increased teams GPA. But the department is still in debt and revenue/giving/wins/graduation rate are all down.

        • BuffsForever says:

          Bohn's had a lot of genius moments like the accomplishments you describe.
          What do you mean helped build the Bubble? He built it with money he
          raised…no body else. A Big12 Program should have had all of those things
          in place. Don't forget increasing season ticket holders and filling the sky
          boxes that Tharp built and didn't sell, rebuilding the Alumni clubs and
          getting past players that are now in the Pros to help the teams like
          Chauncey Billups. All Athletic Departments are in debt…big deal. Bohn
          has a boss which is DeStefano and he has a boss which is Benson. You
          connect the dots. At the end of the day the coach has to perform has well
          and show appreciation for the support he's getting. All things considered
          at the time of hiring Hawk looked like he would be a success. The next
          coach needs to be able to work with the standards CU has. We have a
          graduation rate of 75%. Check out all the other team's graduation
          rates…you may be surprised.

        • BuffsForever says:

          One other thing…don't lump Bohn in with the CU Administration. The
          Athletic Department are separate entities.

  5. BruceCarman says:

    Kyle:
    Begining with closed practices and limited access to quotes; for an easy journalistic ride, your self pity attitude has been obvious. Antaganism toward the program and in particular coach Hawkins is vieled in most of your coverage. The clipped responses to questions provided by coaches and players reflects and lack of trust in how information is used. Since you have a dead end career at present, you have apparently decided to become the token staff hachet man to stimulate circulation and jumpstart a career. Public whining is very ugly.

    • nolabuff says:

      Where have you been for the last month? This is a major controversy and kyle is doing the right thing by covering it. If you think his stories are too harsh, go read the brooks articles on cubuffs.com, that way you can continue to bathe in the endless BS this program throws at us. Welcome to sports, you clearly don't understand the media's role.

    • sKunkedOut says:

      Wow! Perhaps you would prefer a communist newspaper informing you of what the administration would like you to hear. Sou8nds like you've been in The Republic too long! Times are tough for CU Athletics, these are bare bone facts… If the truth is too unhappy for you, Go read the puff pieces on cubuffs.com!

  6. bohn seems to have developed not the "transparency" but the "bunker mentality"…..clearly they are not happy with the ringo departure from the "team". well, so be it. a fan and a journalist is duty bound, with care and consideration, to speak, with dignity, honestly and accurately. (and sometimes offer a heartfelt opinion as well, 'cause we all want to have some fun)

  7. NoVABuff says:

    "I’ve been told by people I trust and who have given me good information in the past, that this was a decision made by Benson in order to preserve some credibility in lobbying the state for more money for higher education. They say Benson didn’t want to face critics who would have asked how the school could afford to pay a coach $3 million not to coach but needs to cut classes or professors or janitors unless it gets more money from the state."

    This is close to what I've heard as well. In that case, I can't really fault the administration because they have to be able to do their job, which includes getting CU better funding from the state. Just look at the uproar amongst Texas faculty who are complaining about Mack Brown getting a raise.

    At the same time, though, Benson doesn't have to explain to the English department why they aren't receiving a piece of research grants from NASA for aeronautical research. Similarly, why should he have to explain to the faculty or legislators why they are paying $3 million for a buyout if that money is coming from private donors unhappy with the current direction of the program?

  8. CO_yeti says:

    I don't know if we should really be upset with Benson. He thought the 3 million buyout would hurt his chances of securing tens of millions of additional funding for the school, and as much as it sucks for the football team he's probably right. Also, overruling Bohn on this issue might be a sign that Benson isn't happy with Bohn's job performance. It could be a hint that Bohn needs to fix things with what he has or CU will find another AD to fix them for him…

  9. buffball says:

    Bohn is right. This issue is dead and no more need for discussion. It has long been painfully obvious to all, including Bohn and Benson, that Hawkins is a complete fraud, a bust and provides absolutely no chance for CU to get better. The Buffs will get only worse each year under this WAC off clown. No further talk needed. Their actions speak loudly – Bohn and the administration could care less about football at CU.

  10. BuffsForever says:

    Benson needs to tell the press that he made the decision instead of throwing Bohn out to the wolves. Bohn is a stand up team player and won't throw anyone under the bus.

  11. ilcubuffs says:

    In school, all of us are taught "learn from history". CU football, historically, has not been a consistent winner. Unfortunately, CU is in another down turn. I was there for the beginning of the end of very good CU football- Mallory started the downward spiral, which Fairbanks refined, and ended three years into McCartney's coaching period. 1977-1984.

    If you believe that Bohn, etc was forced to "keep" Hawkins by some "conspiracy" then you do not understand the "big business" of college football and boo on you. Finding a "conspiracy" will do what? Nothing. Coaches are "dumped" because they cannot produce wins and what their players do off the field. (Even the great Nebraska (in their own minds) had post office quality "most wanted" Incognito, Philips, etc.) Hawkins and staff will either learn to stretch the field and find "take no prisoners" defense or they are gone. The last few years of CU football are historically consistent with it inconsistentcies.

  12. MichGary74 says:

    Kyle,
    Ever heard of beating a dead horse….lets move on.

    • Buff06 says:

      Move on to what? 4-8 next season and Hawkins being fired. CU played the their easiest schedule of the last 10 years in 2009 and we went 3-9. But hey, we are young right!!!! Does that excuse still work?, It's played well the last 4 years.

  13. extrapoint says:

    beating a braindead coach???
    absolutely
    and I will keep on beating him until he is gone.
    and move on to what?? more excrement on the football field?

  14. GoldBuff27 says:

    Kyle, you, too, should move beyond Hawk's retention. Instead, why not try to interview some of the assistant coaches for their opinions as to what went wrong last season and what changes they will recommend to Hawkins to achieve a winning season in 2010. I say assistant coaches as opposed to Hawkins because he doesn't open up in answering questions, as judged by listening to his post-game press conferences. It's always short answers, like "It's just a lot of little things" that are preventing success.

  15. Buff06 says:

    Kyle – Keep up the good work. We can't just brush under the rug this mess. it's pathetic what Benson and Bohn have done to the Univ of Colorado. Danny Boy is bad enough and then B&B come in and make it worse. If they wanted to keep the loser Hawkins fine. But they kept him under the worst possible PR way imaginable.

  16. ilcubuffs says:

    I agreee with GoldBuff27 and interview the assistant coaches on why/how the season went in the toilet and what (if anything) has really been accomplished to fix those "little things" that lead to all the losses. I would be astonished if they did not fall back on everyone is recruiting and we will get to it after the first of the year but I believe you can still get a feel for where this is going and Bohn is really on the hot seat.

  17. extrapoint says:

    So far I have only been calling only for the immediate dismissal of Dan Hawkins as football coach of the Colorado Buffaloes. With this "case closed" attitude and Bohn's dancing with the stars ability on dodging tough questions he has lost any confidence in this corner as well. Get rid of him too. I realize he could very well be the messenger and/or scapegoat for the powers above him but that being the case his job isnt going to last very long anyway.

  18. we are beggers, we can't be choosers. it absolutely is hard to find a nice girl, on the poor side of town.

  19. ilcubuffs says:

    Lets see"
    Leach was a winning coach, extremely creative, went to bowl games, ranked teams, was not a yes man to college administration, and was fired.

    Hawkins has a loosing record, cannot get his team prepared, went to 1 bowl game, not ranked for three years, is a yes man, and is employed by CU.

    Something is just not right with this picture. Wake up Bohn and call Leach and beg for an audience.

  20. theatv says:

    Considering the TT situation of the last couple of days, a few of us were talking again about the decision to keep Hawkins. While the ability to pay out 3 million cash to Hawkins is certainly a top consideration, it would also appear that the price of credibility with those who control state funding and the CU faculty who have for the last eight years been a thorn in the AD's side would also be a top cosideration. Let's face it, with the exception of wins/losses on the field, Hawk's team has done very well as students on campus.
    While Benson may feel that he didn't actually make the decision, it's a safe bet that as president of CU, he made it clear what cost he places on credibility at the state house and on campus.
    If KU, TT and CU learned anything from the Barnett situation, it's that you make the decision quickly and then keep your mouth shut.

  21. ilcubuffs says:

    theatv – I agree with your statements with the exception that TT learned anything. As a CFB fan I am outraged at the incompetence, arrogance, and lack of integrity of the TT administration. ESPN is another issue and we could spend days on them. I hope Leach lands in the Big 12.

    Personally, from a financial and PR point of view they had no choice but to retain Hawk. Unless someone else was going to come forward with the funds his dismissal would not and could not happen. As a CU grad and adult I can accept the situation. Just be honest with everyone. Once you know the right course of action it should be easy to implement.

    If Hawk does not clean up the coaching staff, perform as the leader and not the "best friend", and end the painfully moronic comments he is gone. As we are in a "dead zone" since the Nebr game I wonder when these changes he and Bohn maintained will occur?

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