Hawkins might be safe because of CU's cash-strapped budget

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Despite a disappointing 0-2 start, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins' job might not be immediate jeopardy because of the lack of money in the school's athletic department.

The Boulder Camera reported it would cost nearly $3 million to buyout the remaining three years of Hawkins' contract. And that expense is on top of the cost of hiring a new coach.

Hawkins' contract contains a clause limiting the school's liability to $850,000 per contract year if it should terminate him without cause. Hawkins would have more than three years remaining if he was fired at any point this season. His current contract runs through Jan. 31, 2013.

The school's total liability could approach $3 million under the terms of the deal if any partial year was prorated in a buyout. If the buyout was limited to three years, it would cost CU no more than $2,550,000, the Camera reported.

Hawkins' job status was called into question after embarrassing losses to Colorado State and Toledo to start the season.

The Colorado athletic department remains in deep debt with most of an $8 million loan from the campus and the CU system in 2006 still to be paid off. Part of that debt was caused by the last coaching change when athletic director Mike Bohn fired Gary Barnett at the end of the 2005 season and hired Hawkins.

Colorado was heavily criticized for having to pay Barnett approximately $4 million when it fired him. The terms of Barnett's contract required the settlement.

The department would have to borrow money to buyout Hawkins and it would be hard-pressed to do so in the current economic climate in which state funding to the university system is being significantly trimmed and some Colorado employees and faculty members already have lost their jobs.

Even with pressure mounting on his team as it heads into Saturday's game against Wyoming, Hawkins is confident his team can start winning soon.

"You just have to do what you do better," Hawkins told the Camera. "That's the trick. I've been coaching a long time. I know a lot of coaches. I've had a lot of coaches call me going, 'Hawk, you're fine. You know what you're doing.' And guys that have lost five games in a row. You've just got to keep doing your deal.

"Eventually, you will have a game, and I told our guys this, it will pop at some point."

Coupled with two losses to finish the 2008 season, the Buffaloes currently have a four-game losing streak. That streak is tied for the seventh-longest streak in college football.

Here's a look at the schools across the nation with the longest current losing streaks after last week's games.

10 games: Western Kentucky, Tulane

7 games: Miami (Ohio)

6 games: New Mexico, Virginia

5 games: San Jose State

4 games: Western Michigan, UTEP, Colorado, Ball State