No Family at Bowl Game? No Way

While most Colorado fans will find time to unwrap Christmas or Hanukkah gifts with their families over the coming weekend, members of the Colorado coaching staff will be hard pressed to get much time with their loved ones. On Monday, interim head coach Mike Hankwitz bristled at the suggestion that's come across in recent media reports that CU shouldn't pay for the coaches' families to travel to the Dec. 27 bowl game.

The head coaching change in Boulder has already put the members of the CU coaching staff on uncertain ground. It wasn't the holiday present most of their families had hoped for. And it's the families, sometimes more so than the coaches themselves, who suffer through a coaching change. Hankwitz and his colleagues have the bowl practices to keep them focused. Family members, especially the younger, more vulnerable ones, don't.

Hankwitz said his 12-year-old son Jacob has been thinking about his dad's job situation.

"He understands the dynamics of the coaching change and that we might have to move," Hankwitz said. "That's disappointing and upsetting to him."

So to suggest, as some media reports critical of findings by the state auditors of Gary Barnett's football camp have, that CU shouldn't pay for coaches' families to travel with them to the Champs Bowl feels downright Grinchy.

During Monday's local bowl game press conference, Hankwitz talked about the upcoming game. Wearing his normal pair of glasses, Hankwitz sounded almost professorial talking about Clemson's Charlie Whitehurst, or the injury situation with Colorado's Joel Klatt.

But when the topic turned to coaches' families traveling to the game, Hankwitz's back stiffened, and his voice started to raise and sound more like a defensive football coach.

"It was frustrating for us for people to question why the families got to go," Hankwitz said. "That's a small reward for the sacrifice they make and for the work that the coaches put in."

Hankwitz was referring to some newspaper stories in the past week that were written after the results of the state audits were released. Some implied that the CU athletic department paying or funds from Barnett's camp being used for coaches' families to travel to bowl games was extravagant.

It's not. It's industry standard.

"Every place I've ever been, they've gone to the bowl," offensive line coach Dave Borbely, father of three, said.

As it has in the past, the CU athletic department will pick up the tab for coaches' families to travel to and stay in Orlando this week. It's a small perk for the workload the assistants take on every fall. A typical week over the past four months for the CU assistants went like so:

Monday – Wednesday: To work by 6:30 a.m. Home by 9:30 or 10 p.m.
Thursday: To work by 6:30 a.m. Home by 7:30 or 8:30 p.m.
Friday: To work by 8 a.m. With the team until after Saturday's game.
Sunday: To work by 8:30 a.m. Home by 9:30 or 10:30 p.m.

"Our families … we work seven days a week from the beginning of August until this time of year," Hankwitz said. "I'm only home six nights a week and barely for 10 hours a night. So there's not a lot of time I get to spend with my family."

And just because the families get to go to the bowl game doesn't mean they'll get a normal Christmas. CU will have team meetings Dec. 25 beginning at 12:45, practice at 2:30, media responsibilities at 4:30. A team holiday dinner, which includes family, is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. that night. But coaches have to prepare in the morning for the day's practices, and tie up any loose ends afterward the day is over.

"This is like a busman's holiday," Hankwitz said. "We're working down there. We're not going down there laying on the beach, for Pete's sake. We're working just like we are here. Planning our practice in depth, watching the practice video.

"So to ask us coaches to go down there without a family, that would be extremely difficult for both us and the families."

Borbely said he wouldn't coach somewhere that didn't take care of the families.

"You're going to go to a bowl game for seven days over Christmas and not be with your family? I wouldn't do it if that were the case," he said.

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