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The Show Me Year: Dan Hawkins Embarks On His Fourth Year at CU

Oh, the magical fourth year. Charlie Weis escaped; Greg Robinson and Tyrone Willingham weren't so lucky. Walt Harris and Ed Orgeron didn't even make it to that magical fourth year. Throw Ron Prince into that category as well. Gene Chizik fired his whole coordinating staff after year two. The coaching profession requires drastic measures these days. Who would have thought Tommy Tuberville would have been fired? What Buff fan wouldn't sign up for his tenure? I digress.

I have noticed something among all Buffs fans, regardless of your loyalties to Dan Hawkins and the Colorado program. Pro-Hawkins supporters back their coach with eloquent orations of injuries, a scandal ridden program left for dead by Gary Barnett, youth, a weak offering in the facilities arm race and the University not making the commitment to the program (i.e. assistant coaching salaries and contracts). The "Losing Faith in Hawkins" clan wonder where the progress is especially when coaches like Bo Pelini at Nebraska, Art Briles at Baylor, Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech and Randy Shannon at Miami, to name a few, seemingly have their programs in the right direction after one year. Art Briles, Paul Johnson and Randy Shannon also play with youth. Further, the dwindling faithful hate the excuse making (especially when Jeff Bzdelik, the CU basketball coach, comes out and says "excuses are for losers"), the off the field issues, the ineligible players, the lack of offensive fire power...mostly, they are sick of losing. It is tough time to be a Buff fan regardless of sport.

But the one thing that these two groups agree on (from what I have witnessed) is next year the Buffs must win. And that is a satisfying feeling for a fan, regardless of what side you are on. I think we all agree that next year we should expect something better. Do we expect Dan Hawkins to win 10 games next year? Nope. Do we expect him to win the Big 12 North next year? I don't but next year would be a good year to start. Buffs fans want 8 wins or at a MINIMUM seven wins and a bowl game. Is that a weak expectation? For some of you, yes it would be especially if you are from Auburn or Tennessee. For me, as a Buff fan, that would be progress because the last thing that I want to do is fire another coach and start all over. I want Hawkins to succeed for fear that we may be doing this "fourth year" post five years from now. Some Buffs fans may want 10 wins next year...probably not going to happen. All Buffs fans should want progress which is 8 wins and a bowl. Who wouldn't sign up for that? Especially with a still young team.

see how other coaches fared in year four...


All of this "fourth year talk" got me curious how coaches in their fourth year improved from their first three years. As you can see below, Dan Hawkins has a 13 - 24 record in his first three years:

Average Record in First Three Years Fourth Year
Coach Team Wins Loss % Bowl W Wins Loss % Bowl W
Dan Hawkins Colorado 13 24 35.1% 0 NA NA NA NA

That is a 35.1% winning percentage. Only Mark Mangino of Kansas had a lower winning percentage in his first three years in the Big 12 (33.3%). As you can see below, current Big 12 coaches who have at least four years experience averaged a 57.1% winning percentage in their first three years, about three wins a year more than Hawkins has averaged in his first three years.

Big 12 - Coaches in 4th Year or Longer

Average Record in First Three Years Fourth Year
Coach Team Wins Loss % Bowl W Wins Loss % Bowl W
Bob Stoops Oklahoma   31 7 81.6% 2 12 2 85.7% 1
Mack Brown Texas 27 11 71.1% 1 11 2 84.6% 1
Mike Leach Texas Tech 23 16 59.0% 1 8 5 61.5% 1
Mike Gundy OSU 18 19 48.6% 2 9 3 75.0% NA
Gary Pinkel Missouri 17 19 47.2% 0 5 6 45.5%
Mark Mangino Kansas 12 24 33.3% 0 7 5 58.3% 1
Total 128 96 57.1% 6 52 23 69.3% 4
Average Season 6.9 5.1 57.1%
8.3 3.7 69.3%

1.5 -1.5 12.2%

This impressive list of Big 12 coaches still give Buffs fans hope for a turnaround. These coaches averaged 1.5 more wins more in there fourth season compared to their first three seasons. These six Big 12 coaches averaged 8 wins in year four. Sign us up. Should we expect Dan Hawkins to be on par with Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech? Yes, there is no reason we should say these coaches on the list are too elite for Dan Hawkins. Only Gary Pinkel regressed in year four winning % but then he found a trio by the name of Maclin, Daniel and Coffman.

Below is a list of other coaches who were hired in 2005 and just concluded their fourth win.

Other Coaches Hired Four Year Ago
Average Record in First Three Years Fourth Year
Coach Team Wins Loss % Bowl W Wins Loss % Bowl W
Les Miles LSU 34 6 85.0% 3 7 5 58.3% NA
Urban Meyer Florida 31 8 79.5% 1 11 1 91.7% NA
Bronco Mendenhall BYU 28 10 73.7% 2 10 2 83.3% NA
Kyle Wittingham Utah 24 14 63.2% 3 12 0 100.0% NA
Charlie Weis Notre Dame 22 15 59.5% 0 6 6 50.0% NA
Steve Spurrier South Carolina 21 16 56.8% 1 7 5 58.3% NA
Skip Holtz ECU 20 17 54.1% 1 8 4 66.7% NA
Dave Wannstedt Pittsburgh 16 18 47.1% 0 8 3 72.7% NA
Ron Zook Illinois 13 23 36.1% 0 5 7 41.7% NA
Ty Willingham Washington 11 25 30.6% 0 0 11 0.0% NA
Greg Robinson Syracuse 7 28 20.0% 0 3 9 25.0% NA
Mike Sanford UNLV 6 29 17.1% 0 5 7 41.7% NA
Total 233 209 52.7% 11 82 60 57.7% 0
Average Season 6.3 5.7 52.7% 6.9 5.1 57.7%
Difference 0.6 -0.6 5.0%

This list isn't as promising as the Big 12 coaching comparison, only averaging an increase of 0.6 wins over their first three years. Charlies Weis, Les Miles and Ty Willingham were the only coaches to regress in terms of win % in year four compared to their first three year's win percentage.

What do these charts tell us about Dan Hawkins? Nothing really, just interesting to see how others have stacked up. It will be interesting to see if Dan Hawkins gets to that 7 or 8 win mark, which is what these 18 coaches averaged in their fourth year.