Contract Analysis: What Colorado Must Pay to Fire Dan Hawkins

On Saturday, Colorado blew a 28 point lead in the 4th quarter to Kansas in what would become the worst blown lead in the Buffaloes’ 121 year history.  Head Coach Dan Hawkins’ son Cody was playing Quarterback thanks to a ruptured spleen suffered by starter Tyler Hansen a few weeks ago.  And despite a pretty good performance (322 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT), Cody fell apart in the 4th quarter along with his offensive teammates (the offense had two turnovers that were returned for touchdowns by Kansas’ defense) and Colorado’s entire defense and special teams. That game marked Colorado’s 5th straight loss (3-6) and the end of Dan Hawkins’ career at Colorado.

While Hawkins had success at his previous position as head coach at Boise State (53-11 record, including three seasons in which he won 11 or more games), that success did not follow him to Colorado.  He went just 19-39, which included four straight losing seasons (he didn’t have a single winning season there) and just one bowl game, which was a loss.  His Big 12 Conference record was 10-27, with the best ever record coming in 2007 when the Buffaloes went 4-4.  Furthermore, Hawkins was abysmal on the road.  Just 2-23, with the last road victory in 2007 at Texas Tech.

What happens next?  Colorado finds a new head coach and pays Hawkins to leave as accounted for in his contract.  It is being widely circulated that Hawkins will be owed $2.0 million as a result of his Termination without cause by the University (despite what “cause” Colorado fans might think exists).  But I just want to clarify that the exact amount is actually $1,896,057 plus the amount for the remainder of this year (ending on June 30, 2011).  Assuming he has or will have been paid for the first five months of this year, for the remaining seven months he will be owed an additional $616,694 for a total of $2.5 million.

What makes this even more interesting is that Hawkins and the University of Colorado amended his contract in 2008 to change the amount he is owed, which was approximately $316,000 less under his original agreement. I believe it is strange to reward a coach following two losing seasons (2-10 in 2006 and 6-7 in 2007) and the fact that Hawkins followed up that new contract by going 5-7 (2008) and 3-9 (2009) simply supports my belief.  And while it may only cost Colorado a few hundred thousand additional dollars, I’m sure that’s not how the would-have-been-benefactors of that money feel about it.