Buff fans rejoice! Hawkins out as Colorado coach

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Buffalo Nation, your wish has been granted and your long regional nightmare is now over.

The reports began surfacing in earnest late Monday night, and officially became a reality with a press release Tuesday morning.  Dan Hawkins is out as Colorado’s head coach.

According to a press release issued by the school, has been relieved of his duties as head football coach of the Buffaloes effective immediately.  Associate head coach Brian Cabral will serve as the interim head coach for the final three games of the 2010 season.

“We collectively believed that it was important to provide the opportunity for Dan as head coach and his current staff to pull things together, and things looked bright just one month ago after we opened with a 3-1 record,” athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement. “However, things have gone downhill from there.  While we recognize the progress that we have made in several areas during nearly five years under Dan, the negativity and divisiveness that is associated with the current leadership has become detrimental and is beyond repair to our current enterprise and it’s time to make a change.”

I’ve met some tremendously special people and had some fantastic experiences during my time here at Colorado,” Hawkins said.  “Unfortunately, I was not able to bring the wins that so many Buff faithful wish for and deserve.  My biggest pain comes from not being able to see the joy and happiness on our players faces on more occasions following a victory.  CU has a great group of young men running out behind Ralphie every Saturday, those guys have worked very hard in the classroom, off the field, and on the field and have earned the right to win.  I want the Buffs to experience that special feeling.

“I’d like to thank all the great people who surround and support the program, and especially those people on our staff who touch the players on a day-to-day basis; they are special. Please come out and support the University f Colorado football program and the players in the last two home games, as well as on the road in Lincoln, they need and deserve your encouragement.  In the future I wish nothing but the best for CU as it moves in to the Pac-12, I hope everyone concerned with the program will pitch in and support the program on the path to another national championship.”

Per the release, Bohn said a search committee would be in place by the end of the week if not sooner to conduct a national search to name a replacement.  While there is no established timetable, Bohn is fully aware that coaches can begin making in-home recruiting visits on December 1.

Hawkins, who was hired away from Boise State in December of 2005, finishes his four-plus years in Boulder with an overall record of 19-39 and a Big 12 mark of 10-27.  He becomes the third Div. 1-A hot-seat coach to be fired during the 2010 season, joining Tim Brewster of Minnesota and Todd Dodge of North Texas.

“I fully support Mike Bohn’s decision to relieve Dan Hawkins of his duties immediately and appoint Brian Cabral interim head coach of the Buffs,” CU-Boulder Chancellor Dr. Philip P. DiStefano said.  “I believe this is the right decision first and foremost for our players, who have worked hard and endured much this season, but also for our alumni, donors and fans, who have stood by the team over the last five years.  Our focus should now be on supporting Coach Cabral and the team, finishing this season as strongly as we can, and setting our sights on obtaining a new head coach as we head into our inaugural season in the Pac-12 Conference.”

As for who will replace Hawkins as they move to a new conference, the early frontrunner appears to be former CU head coach Bill McCartney.  The 70-year-old McCartney, the winningest coach in school history, has not coached since 1994, so of course he should be considered as the leader heading into the search.

Another name that’s been speculated on before Hawkins’ became official is LSU’s Les Miles.

Iowa LB Aaron Mends to miss extended time with injury

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Talk about a hard-luck story.

After never starting a game at Iowa, Aaron Mends (pictured, blocking punt) had earned a starting job at outside linebacker during practice this spring.  With football being the cruel mistress that it can be at times, the Hawkeyes announced Friday night that Mends “will miss an extended period of time due to injury.” The program offered no details as to the specific nature of the injury, although it’s believed to involve the knee.

According to the school’s release, the fifth-year senior suffered the injury during the final week of Iowa’s spring drills.

Mends was a three-star member of the Hawkeyes’ 2014 recruiting class.  He was the highest-rated linebacker in Iowa’s class that year.

After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, Mends has played in 38 games the past three seasons.  A baker’s dozen of those appearances came during the 2017 season.

Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, James Franklin and Clay Helton among 15 CFB coaches attending NFL Draft

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We’re less than a week away from former college players officially finding out their new homes with the start of the 2018 NFL Draft and the excitement is palpable no matter if you’re a Cleveland Browns fan or somebody who dons the cardinal and gold of USC.

Naturally this is a big deal for the players’ former programs as well and their recent head coaches will be taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity to future recruits by stopping by the draft itself at AT&T Stadium for the festivities. The NFL released a list of 14 college football coaches and one recent one on Friday as being confirmed to attend the event and there are a few notable names beyond the big ones we’re used to seeing every year:

In addition, Stanford head coach David Shaw will serve as a draft analyst on NFL Network for a seventh year in a row and even ESPN’s College GameDay is getting involved with a pregame show outside the stadium they are quite familiar with from big games over the years.

Georgia DB Mark Webb tears meniscus in practice but expected back before fall camp

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Georgia’s injury luck this spring isn’t getting much better as the defending SEC champions move toward their annual G-Day spring game over the weekend.

Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed with reporters after Thursday’s practice that sophomore defensive back Mark Webb suffered a knee injury earlier in the week and tore his meniscus. He already had the knee scoped and is expected back before fall camp after the rather minor procedure.

Webb originally landed in Athens as a wideout but made the move to the secondary just as the season was getting going. He appeared in 13 games in 2017, mostly on special teams, but was expected to challenge for one of the starting spots at cornerback heading into the upcoming campaign.

The absence of Webb in the lineup for the final week of spring adds to a growing list of injuries for the team during practice as they do a little bit of roster building toward the future. Receiver Michael Chigbu’s career may be over due to lingering injuries and defensive back Divaad Wilson tore his ACL not long after enrolling this semester.

Safe to say that G-Day on Saturday might not be as physical as Smart and the coaching staff would otherwise like as a result of trying to keep the team healthy as they prepare to head into a big offseason.

Old Dominion announces remodel, expansion plans for S.B. Ballard Stadium

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Old Dominion is making sure the first word in the school’s name is not the first thing you think of when you are playing against the Monarchs, joining a long list of their FBS peers with some significant upgrades for their home venue over the coming years. In plans approved this week by the university, ODU released renderings and an updated timeline on a $65 million remodel of S.B. Ballard Stadium that is set to begin as soon as this summer.

“We are excited to begin Phase 1 reconstruction,” said Greg DuBois, the school’s vice president for administration and finance. “Fan comfort and high-quality amenities are the primary focus of this phase. The project will help us create the type of game-day experience fans want and will set us up for future expansions.”

The stadium, some 81-years-old, will undergo a nearly complete teardown over the next two years in order to transform the place most know as Foreman Field. Both the east and west stands will be demolished and rebuilt, complete with new seating and a new press box. There will naturally be more restrooms and concession stands as part of the plan that includes plenty more bells and whistles for the Conference USA program. Seating is expected to grow beyond 21,000 or so capacity the current venue seats.

While construction will get started in the coming months, the bulk of activity will take place after the 2018 campaign is wrapped up at home and before kickoff of the opener in 2019. The Virginian-Pilot reports that funding will not utilize state funds but that the school is requesting that the legislature approve an added $10 million to the cost structure as a result of rising prices beyond the original $55 million forecasted.

2018 will be just the 10th season for the Monarchs (and fifth in FBS) since the football program was reinstated and it goes without saying that the new digs will be some of the nicest in CUSA when all is said and done. Few programs have been able to successfully navigate the transition as well as ODU has and it seems an updated stadium in the near future is the reward for head coach Bobby Wilder and others in Norfolk.