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After his team’s one-sided loss at Oklahoma, CU head coach Dan Hawkins walked out to greet winning quarterback Landry Jones. The Buffs head coach wanted to talk.
He did not bring up the 43-10 thrashing, nor the fact that Jones set a school-record for passing. Instead, the conversation focused on academics.
“I said, ‘Hey, I’m really proud of you. You had a great game, but let’s talk about academics,’” Hawkins said. “‘How are you doing on your school work?’ I was on him about it there, and I’m not even coaching the guy.”
Known for his involvement in community service and emphasis on players’ grades, Hawkins has football to worry about now.
CU has now lost two of every three games they have played with Hawkins on the sidelines. In the wake of their fourth consecutive defeat, at least the Buffs (3-5, 0-4) have academics to talk about.
Some CU players have called this Saturday’s game a “must-win” and it may represent the last crack at a bowl game. Kansas, who has not won a game since September, plays host in a match-up of two teams looking for their first win in Big 12 play.
The Jayhawks, just like the Buffs, have lost their last four games.
“I’m sure they feel like they can get one out on us at home,” CU wide-out Toney Clemons said. “We definitely feel like we can go in there and get one. It’s going to be two teams that are struggling and fighting.”
Under first-year coach Turner Gill, the Jayhawks rank last in the conference in scoring offense and scoring defense. Gill debuted with a home loss to North Dakota State, a middle of the pack FCS squad.
Sound familiar? Hawkins’ first game in Boulder resulted in a 19-10 defeat from the hands of Montana State.
When asked about his next opponent, Hawkins could not seem to make up his mind.
“They’re playing a little bit streaky obviously,” Hawkins said.
After going on to talk about how the Jayhawks battled nicely in a loss to Iowa State he concluded the Jayhawks are “playing well.”
In the three games before that, Kansas lost by a combined 159 – 24.
With four games left and three wins needed to qualify for a bowl, the Buffs are getting desperate. Half of those remaining games come on the road, including this week’s trip to Lawrence, Kansas.
As a senior, CU corner Jimmy Smith has only won two road games in his career. Both of those came during his freshman year.
“It’s sickening to me because I know we can beat these teams. If we bring some of the teams we played on the road here we could beat them, badly,” Smith said. “But then we go on the road and it’s like we can’t tie our shoes together for some reason. I hate it, I hate the fact that we can’t go on the road and win a game.”
The future pro, Smith, has never been on a winning team in his college career. And unless he and his teammates can string out three wins, he never will be.
Smith says the last four years is something he never expected.
“We’ve been through blizzards of nonsense,” he said. “Being positive is really the only thing you can do in a situation like this.”
Contact Staff Writer Michael Krumholtz at Michael.email@example.com.