Phil Steele pegs Hawkins on the hot seat

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Anybody who has read this blog for any length of time knows the deep respect I have for Phil Steele and his work.

His blog has been providing some interesting nuggets as we get ready for the upcoming season.

One item that caught my eye earlier this month was his list of coaches who he thinks are on the hot seat in terms of keeping their jobs.

As a matter of history, Steele's top three choices from last season all either resigned or were fired. And seven of his 12 picks from before 2008 are no longer coaching at their previous jobs. So when Steele puts a "nickel on your head," it's usually not a good sign.

The Big 12 has only one member of the list: Colorado's Dan Hawkins at No. 4. Hawkins is listed behind Louisville's Steve Kragthorpe, Indiana's Bill Lynch and Virginia's Al Groh.

This is a huge year for Hawkins, who has posted a 13-24 record and made only one bowl trip in his three seasons with the Buffaloes.

Despite those recent struggles, it has done little to diminish Hawkins' confidence coming into the season. He has repeated his "10 wins and no excuses" several times since first making that call at a team banquet following last season's 5-7 record that featured seven losses in the final nine games.

But the Buffaloes' schedule is much more forgiving this season with key divisional games against Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas all at home.

I'm expecting that should be enough to allow the Buffaloes to remain in North Division contention until late in the season. And I also wonder if Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn would willingly get rid of his own hire after only four seasons.

Those reasons will make Colorado one of the most interesting stories in the conference this season. But I'm thinking Hawkins will win enough this season to be one of the few coaches who can escape mention on Steele's list and still come back to coach again next season.