Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week, he will break down the biggest mismatch in college football. Considering the increasing number of uncompetitive games, Mike's task is more challenging than hiding the full details of his interaction with a former NFL player not affiliated with Oklahoma State University.
At the University of Colorado’s senior football banquet last December, Coach Dan Hawkins stated what he wanted from the 2009 Buffaloes.
"Ten wins and no excuses."
"To me, the expectation of excellence, the standard of excellence, I always want it high. I want it present in their minds. I believe in that philosophy."
In September, after the Buffaloes were 1-2 with losses to Colorado State and Toledo, Hawkins said: "The thing is, I never made that statement. Somebody put something on the Internet and everybody runs with it. When I talked about the expectation of excellence, what I talked about was the expectation of winning 10 games. But what came out was I guaranteed it and promised it. I didn't say, '10 wins, no excuses.' But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?"
Well, Colorado can still win 10 games. All it has to do is beat Texas in Austin Saturday night, win the rest of its regular-season games, and win the Big 12 title game. Throw in a BCS bowl victory, and you have an 11-3 mark. Who'd have thunk it after the Buffs fell to 1-3 with their loss last week at West Virginia?
Folks, Colorado isn't beating Texas, isn't winning 10 games, and probably isn't going to avoid its fourth losing season in as many years under Hawkins, who was 53-11 at Boise State.
The question Saturday is how badly the Longhorns will beat the Buffaloes. If it's by the same score as the last time they met in the state of Texas, it could get Hawkins fired.
In 2005, Colorado lost to Nebraska, 30-3, on the day after Thanksgiving to open the door for Iowa State to win the Big 12 North the next day at Kansas. But the Cyclones missed their field goal try in overtime, the Jayhawks made theirs, and a reluctant Colorado club was sent to Houston to represent the North against South champion Texas.
The Longhorns won, 70-3. And Gary Barnett got canned as CU's coach.
Enter Hawkins, who can claim five seasons of Boise State’s incredible 103-17 mark this decade.
Things have been harder in Boulder. Hawkins' first three Buffaloes squads went 2-10, 6-7 and 5-7. Their Big 12 record in that time was 8-16.
This year's team wasn't projected to win 10 games by anyone outside of Hawkins' office, but it was still expected to be a bowl team. Getting upset at home by rival Colorado State, 23-17, was no way to get started, especially getting outgained, 376 yards to 251.
That was nothing compared to the indignity at Toledo on an ESPN Friday night game. The Rockets rolled up 624 yards in their 54-38 triumph. That same team was shut out by Ohio State the following week.
The Buffs beat Wyoming, 24-0 at Boulder, then found a third different day of the week in which to lose when it dropped a Thursday night game at West Virginia.
Colorado returns to ESPN yet again Saturday night. But fear not, Buffaloes backers. With Florida-LSU and Michigan-Iowa on CBS and ABC, respectively, only sadistic Texas fans will stay tuned to all of your inevitable defeat to the Longhorns.
Texas, you see, has something even bigger in mind than 10 wins and no excuses.