Darian Hagan has gone through numerous coaching changes during his tenure at the Colorado football headquarters, but that doesn’t make the latest change any easier.
“I’m a little unsure because you never know what could happen,” said Hagan, the Buffalo running backs coach.
One of the greatest players in CU history, Hagan led the Buffaloes to their only national title in 1990 as a brilliant quarterback.
In the mid-1990s, he returned to CU as director of the C Alumni Club. He left CU in 1998 to pursue a career outside of football, but then moved on to coaching. He was hired as an offensive assistant on February 9, 2005 by then head coach Gary Barnett.
Barnett was fired after that season, but his replacement, Dan Hawkins, retained Hagan as running coach, a position he held during Hawkins’ five years in office. After Hawkins was fired, Hagan spent five years off the field. He was Director of Human Resources for John Embry (2011-12) and Director of Player Development for Mike McIntyre (2013-15).
However, in 2016, McIntyre brought Hagan back to the role of running coach again. Since then, Hagan has held the position, working for McIntyre, Mel Tucker and Carl Dorrell.
On October 2, CU fired Dorrell and is currently looking for a replacement. Hagan has remained at CU through five other coaching transfers and hopes to survive this one as well.
“I’m a little worried, but at the same time, life goes on,” Hagan said. “You have to keep living, keep being happy, and keep striving for health.
“Unknown in this, but most importantly, I have a great family, I have great family support, so I don’t really worry about anything other than not wanting to leave Colorado. Everything comes to an end, and I hope there is no end in sight.”
When the Buffs (1-10, 1-7 Pac-12) host Utah No. 14 (8-3, 6-2) on Saturday at Folsom Field (2:10 pm, Pac-12 Network), Hagan will hit the milestone. This will be the 300th game he has participated in at CU in one capacity or another, whether as a player, coach or employee.
According to CU, Hagan will become only the ninth person in the program’s history to reach the 300-game mark. Only two others – Kayo Lam and Brian Cabral – were players.
During his time as a running coach, Hagan has mentored several stars, including Jarek Broussard, Philip Lindsay, Travon McMillian and Rodney Stewart.
Senior Alex Fonteno has not been the type of star of his career, but he has been a grinder for six years, and he’s showing arguably his best football since returning from a chest injury three games ago.
“I’m very excited (for Fonteno),” Hagan said. “For a guy who’s been here for six years, gone through a lot of different changes, a lot of ups and downs, injuries, coach changes; for a guy to never lose sight of what he wanted to do, which is to play football, get a degree, and in the last three games to go out on his own terms is great.”
Fonteno has rushed for 219 yards in his last three games, averaging 5.8 yards per throw.
Fonteno, who has missed six games with an injury this season, is second on the team with 304 yards. During his career, he rushed for 1,547 yards, which is the 29th most in program history. He needs 66 yards on Saturday to finish in the top 25.
Senior quarterback Anthony Lyle, a graduate of Broomfield’s Legacy High School, is one of many players ending his career on Saturday.
Lyle, who started his career in Eastern Michigan, moved to CU in 2019. He was an outstanding special team player and played on scholarships this season.
“I took every opportunity that came my way and I felt like I attacked her 110%,” he said. “So I felt that yes, I achieved what I wanted, what I was given.
“It flew by. It’s just one of those things when you realize you want to go all the way, did I use every day, every opportunity that I had? So you can sit down and sort of think about it. It’s just a surreal feeling and I’m just ready for the next step in life.”