|Buffs' upset of No. 3 Oklahoma a signature moment for new regime|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 30 September 2007 10:40|
By knocking off third-ranked Oklahoma 27-24 Saturday, the Buffaloes gave college football fans something else to admire about Hawkins' program other than his offseason eruption. It came in response to an anonymous letter from a parent complaining about players having just two weeks off before summer conditioning.
In Hawkins' first year in Boulder, the Buffs stumbled through a 2-10 season that began with a shocking loss to lower-level Montana State and included several close calls, most notably a last-minute 14-13 loss at No. 9 Georgia that Hawkins lamented would have meant the world to his upstart Buffaloes had they held on for the upset.
Now, he has that big win to build upon.
``That's our expectation for this program, to be a national championship-level program, to compete with the best programs in the country and that means beating those programs,'' Hawkins said. ``You can't just keep coming close all the time. You have to be able to seal the deal.''
Junior defensive tackle George Hypolite said this year's team was tired of hearing about the 1990 national championship squad or the 2001 Big 12 championship run.
``I go watch film at 7:30 every morning and every day I was in there I was not alone. Everybody was doing what they needed to do to be ready,'' Hypolite said. ``No disrespect to any of the other teams that have played here, but I really feel like it was our time to get our big win.
``We've played good games before, but this is the first time we have really kicked the door down.''
Hawkins took over a troubled program last year, replacing Gary Barnett, who found himself at the center of a sordid recruiting scandal. An investigation concluded that drugs, alcohol and sex were used to entice recruits to the Boulder campus.
No charges were filed, but Barnett got into further trouble when he used derogatory terms in talking about kicker Katie Hnida, who came out with allegations that she was raped by a teammate in 2000. Barnett was suspended by the school in the spring of 2004 and had restrictions placed on his recruiting.
When Barnett returned from his suspension, he still had his job, but the president, chancellor and athletic director were soon all gone. When the Buffs started 7-2 in 2005, it appeared Barnett was rolling toward a contract extension.
Then came losses to Iowa State, Nebraska and Texas by a combined 130-22, including a 70-3 demolition at the hands of the Longhorns in the Big 12 title game, and Barnett was gone, too, albeit with a $3 million buyout.
Hawkins talked a big game when he got to Boulder, giving speeches all over the state, but the Buffs were slow to adapt to the new coaching staff and posted the program's worst season since 1984.
This year, they came up short again in another close call when they lost to Florida State 16-6 on Sept. 15. But the Buffs (3-2, 1-0 Big 12) showed everyone - including themselves - in that loss that they could hang with big-time schools.
``We figure we can play with anyone now,'' Hypolite said after the program's biggest win since a 62-36 drubbing of second-ranked Nebraska in 2001.
The Buffs, however, insist they're staying even-keeled as they try to ensure there's no hangover effect that could wipe out even bigger plans.
``I'm already looking forward to Baylor,'' said linebacker Jordon Dizon, the nation's leading tackler. ``I want to go out as Big 12 champion.''