Is 100-1 best Colo. can do?

May 30, 2006 12:30 AM

In Las Vegas books, college football involving Colorado schools are a blip on the national map.

The Buffaloes, rising from an opening 75-1 to 100-1 this week at Caesars Palace to win the BCS national championship, is the only in- state school even mentioned. Both Air Force and Colorado State are nowhere to be found — which means the dreaded ”˜others’ category at a cold 15-1.

But Colorado should have a right for optimism, if for no other reason than finally divorcing itself from the Gary Barnett problem. Out with controversy, parties and lack of production. In with Dan Hawkins, one hot commodity.

The hiring of Hawkins may represent a new direction in Buffaloes football. Hawkins is young (45) by coaching standards, departing a Boise State program that was 53-10 under his guidance. The Broncos were hailed as one of the nation’s most exciting and innovative offensive teams.

The University of Colorado website already suggests Hawkins has adopted a new recruiting standard — discovering top talent in the other 49 states. Six players, including wide receiver Jeremy Bloom were selected in the recent NFL Draft, leaving a void from a club that again backed into the Big XII North title game and a dreadful 70-3 loss to defending national champion Texas.

Hawkins said he was pleased with the results from the Buffs’ annual spring football game, but the Vegas books don’t second that emotion.

Colorado finished 7-6 last year, 6-7 against the spread and a breakeven 6-6 in ”˜over/under’ results. Mediocrity just doesn’t cut it in betting circles. Either be very good, or very bad.

With Hawkins, Colorado has a bright new face. Air Force and CSU have been under the controls of state coaching icons Fisher DeBerry and Sonny Lubick.

Colorado State was 6-6 overall, but a poor 2-5 ATS on the road. Air Force was 4-7 SU, the first time in DeBerry’s outstanding career in Colorado Springs, that the Falcons had sustained back-to-back losing seasons.

The regular season is still more than three months away, but both Mountain West schools figure to play catchup to league champ TCU and a host of other .500 teams.