Last month, a spokesman for the CU Buffs maintained that the well-documented turmoil swirling around the return of embattled Coach Dan Hawkins hadn't really hurt recruiting.
But with national signing day coming up on Wednesday, at least one indication of trouble has already surfaced: According to the Boulder Daily Camera, the state's top two high school prospects as determined by the amorphous entity known as The Internet, have informally committed to the California Golden Bears, not the Colorado Golden Buffaloes.
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During the past three years, Hawkins has landed the most sought-after Colorado high school player: Ryan Miller, Jon Major and Nick Kasa, respectively. But both Grandview High's Chris Martin and Steamboat Springs' Austin Hinder picked Cal. Moreover, the Camera reports that only two players from Colorado of any hype level had cast their lot with CU as of this weekend.
Of course, Hawkins could have found a passel of athletic gems elsewhere that will more than compensate for his lack of scores in his own backyard. But if his record beyond Colorado's borders is as poor as the mark he'll apparently register within it, the result could be a worst-case scenario for the future of the program.
CU's decision last November to retain Hawkins seemed more about saving money (by not having to buy out his contract) than about on-the-field considerations. However, should he get sacked at the end of this next season, or the one after, the university could have a helluva time convincing a quality coach to sign up as his successor due to the perception that the cupboard is bare -- a situation that would make rebuilding that much more difficult and time-consuming.
And that would cost much, much more in the long run.