Dan Hawkins fired: Top 5 lessons the Broncos (and Josh McDaniels) can learn from CU sacking

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Dan Hawkins.
After CU weaseled out of firing Dan Hawkins last year, I feared the university would find another excuse to keep Hawk even after this past weekend's Kansas debacle. But no: CBS4 and other sources report that the pin will finally be pulled today, belatedly remedying one of two hideous high-profile local coaching catastrophes. So... what can the Broncos learn from CU about dealing with the other one -- Josh McDaniels? At least five things.

5. Don't be cheap. It's unlikely any CU administrator will ever admit it, but the one and only reason Hawkins was given a fifth year after a horrific 2009 season (and disappointing performances over the course of the previous three campaigns) was money. The school owed him $3.1 million, and decision makers clearly feared a PR bloodbath if they agreed to pay Hawk this sum simply to make him go away. But by keeping Hawkins at the helm for an even more disastrous year, the university has potentially cost itself much more. Convincing recruits to sign up with the Buffs will now be tougher than ever, making a quick turnaround all but inconceivable.

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Dan Hawkins at the microphone in 2009.
Fortunately, righting ships in the NFL is more straightforward than at the college level, especially if franchises spend money wisely. And paying off the rest of McDaniels's four-year, $8 million contract if this season continues to spiral out of control would be a good start.

4. Don't engage in spin. One of the most irritating aspects of the protracted Hawkins saga were his repeated efforts to explain away losses. Exhibit A was last year's Kansas State defeat, which prompted such a storm of bloviation that we dubbed Hawkins a dead man talking -- a premature label, but an apt one.

Thus far, McDaniels hasn't gone down this road to a significant degree -- but neither has he shown the sort of fight fans want to see from him. As the Raiders decimated the Broncos 59-14 a couple of weeks back, he looked suicidal, and his post-game comments only reinforced that impression. At least he didn't jabber on, Hawkins-style, about the positives that emerged during this overwhelmingly negative experience. But down the line, he needs to send the message that failures will be battled, not meekly accepted.

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