"That was incredible, it totally took me by surprise," Cabral said. "I've never been as shocked about anything like that in my life. I feel so fortunate… so blessed, and I am really honored."
The 51-year old is entering his 20th year coaching linebackers at Colorado, the 19th year as a full-time assistant. That's the most in CU history in all sports. He also coached the punt return unit on special teams for seven seasons, as the director of CU's summer football camps for 11 years. He was an assistant head coach, as well, for seven seasons under former CU coach Gary Barnett, and served as the team's interim head coach for a three-month period in the spring of 2004 when Barnett was suspended from his duties.
"Leadership in a word is influence," Hawkins told Thursday's crowd. "Brian Cabral has possibly had more influence over the success of Colorado football than anyone in our history. His style, his grace, his soul radiates through our program. I am proud to recognize Brian as the Associate Head Coach of Colorado football.
"He is a person I look up to and confide in," he continued. "Brian's mentorship of our entire team and staff is powerful. He is a cornerstone in the proud history of Colorado football."
Known as one of the top linebacker coaches in the nation, his students have included Matt Russell, the 1996 Butkus Award winner, and all-Big Eight performers Greg Biekert, Chad Brown and Ted Johnson, all of whom went on to stardom in the National Football League. He's also earned his stripes as a recruiter over the years, and was instrumental in bringing in Rashaan Salaam, the 1994 Heisman trophy winner, and Chris Naeole, a 1996 All-American. In the 2008 class, he was instrumental in bringing Lynn Katoa, Jon Major and Shaun Mohler — three of the four linebackers in the class.
Cabral played for nine years in the NFL, and was special teams captain for the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl championship team. Cabral praised the university where he first came to play and study in 1974.
"I've been very fortunate to be at CU," Cabral said. "Colorado gave me an opportunity to get an education, and really laid the foundation for who I was to become, in the NFL, in coaching, in life. I owe a lot to Colorado. It's been both an honor and a privilege for me to coach here, and I get to live every Buffs' dream by coaching these guys.
"I feel like I represent every Buff that ever wore the uniform when I coach. I've been the benefactor, and I am a very fortunate man being able to keep my family in one place and to have all my kids graduate from the same high school is incredible.
"I need to thank Hawk," he continued. "In one sense, he's brought a lot out of me. He has a different style, and he's celebrated my successes in everything I do and it's given me confidence to get better as a coach, as a recruiter. And I need to thank Coach Mac for helping me start my collegiate coaching career — he's the one who brought me back to CU and gave me full responsibility of the linebackers as a grad assistant. And to go even farther back, I have to thank (the late) Dan Stavely, he's the coach who first got me to Colorado."
A testament to how well thought of Cabral is: At the Northern Colorado recruiting luncheon in Windsor, when told about the Cabral promotion, the 100 or so in attendance broke out in applause.