Barnett Done at Colorado, Here's Why

As reported in the Buffalo Sports News chat room and on the message boards last night, Gary Barnett will be fired from his head coaching job at the University of Colorado. The Board of Regents are meeting on the matter today, and the official announcement is expected to come down tomorrow. Inside, a look at how it really came to this, and where Colorado will initially be looking for their next head coach.

The decision to fire Gary Barnett was made before the slaughter at the hands of Texas in the Big 12 title game last weekend. That loss was the third worst in the history of Colorado football and was also the third straight Big 12 title game where Colorado was badly beaten.

Before the November 12th Iowa State game, Gary Barnett was told by Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn that he was receiving a contract extension. After looking at the agreement, Barnett said he wanted more money and he wasn't ready to sign. At the time, Barnett had a 7-2 record with two very winnable games versus Iowa State and Nebraska left on the slate. He was also waiting to see if the Missouri job was going to open up. At the time, Missouri was a 5-4 team playing poorly. They were coming off their worst game, against CU, when the Buffs shellacked the Tigers, 41-12, in Boulder. Mizzou had Baylor and Kansas State left on the schedule and was in danger of missing out on a bowl birth which could have likely ended the career of Head Coach Gary Pinkel and in turn opended the door up for Gary Barnett, a Missouri alum. A good number of Barnett's old frat brothers showed up at Colorado for that game in Boulder. The same frat brothers had shown up in Boulder for Colorado's October 8th win over Texas A&M. It was at that time that the higher-ups in Colorado smelled a rat and they were spot on. Barnett was privately lobbying for the Missouri head coaching job. Former Colorado Athletic Director, Dick Tharp, a very close friend of Barnett's, was also spotted at the Big 12 Conference meetings in New York a few days ago. Those close to the situation say that Tharp was there going to bat for Barnett with Missouri athletic director Mike Alden. This is not the first time Barnett has done this as he was also privately lobbying for the Illinois head job last year before Ron Zook was hired. Some say he did the same with Texas Christian head job a few years ago, but the BSN cannot substantiate those rumors.

After Missouri made a bowl game by somewhat upsetting Baylor, and Colorado lost their next two games, the contract Barnett turned down in hopes he could gain leverage by saying Missouri wants me and I just went 9-2, started looking very appealing. But after the Nebraska game, Gary Barnett was no longer appealing to the University of Colorado and his contract was rescinded. Just like Barnett and his Buffs had put the first nail in the coffin of then coach Frank Solich and the Nebraska Cornhuskers four years before in Boulder by stomping the No.1 Huskers, 62-36, the Huskers returned the favor to Barnett this year by helping to seal his fate with a 30-3 win.

After seeing the fans' reaction to the display on Folsom Field that day as they threw inanimate objects onto the gridiron and a whole section had to be cleared out, University President Hank Brown lined up a private donor that supplied the two million dollars needed to buy Barnett out of his contract. The money was on standstill until last Saturday afternoon, and now the University will put it to use. Even if Coach Barnett and his staff had pulled off a miracle at Reliant Stadium, those close to the situation said he would still have been fired. Higher-ups at Colorado have been very displeased with recruiting under Coach Barnett. Not only from the "scandal" and the state audits from his summer camps, but from the fact that over the last three years Colorado has been competing regularly with Mountain West and WAC conference schools for recruits more so than Big 12 and Pac Ten institutions. Recruiting has gone downhill at Colorado since before news of the "scandal" hit. Many say it was when tight ends coach Jon Embree and running backs coach Eric Bieniemy headed west to UCLA after the 2002 Alamo Bowl. The two former Buffs were arguably Barnett's top recruiters.

Colorado is about to begin the cleansing process and it is not known at this point what coaches, if any, will be retained by the Univserity. What is known is that Assistant Head Coach Brian Cabral is currently a candidate for the head job at the University of Northern Colorado. Darian Hagan, CU legend and Barnett's latest hire, is one coach we are told the University definitely wants to keep around.

Sources say that Colorado will start its head coaching search by following a model very popular as of late. They will be looking to the NFL first. Stay tuned to the BSN for names of potential candidates in the coming days.

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