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College Football

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Westward Ho

Barnett quits Northwestern to take Colorado job

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Posted: Wednesday January 20, 1999 02:48 PM

  Gary Barnett helped coach Colorado to a share of the national title in 1990 Jonathan Daniel/Allsport

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Gary Barnett, wooed by many schools since leading Northwestern to the 1996 Rose Bowl, is the new coach at Colorado.

Barnett, who resigned as Northwestern's coach after seven seasons, told his players of his decision Tuesday night, and was expected to arrive in Boulder Wednesday night.

The school called a Friday news conference to introduce him. Barnett's hiring is subject to the approval of CU's Board of Regents, which has its regularly scheduled monthly meeting Thursday.

"I'm pleased to bring forward to the Board an individual who is deeply committed to young people and the University of Colorado," Buffaloes athletic director Dick Tharp said Wednesday.

Barnett replaces Rick Neuheisel, who left Colorado on Jan. 9 to coach Washington for $1 million a year. The 52-year-old Barnett planned to spend Thursday assembling a staff and preparing to meet recruits.

Northwestern has a 4:30 p.m. EST news conference and is expected to announce that Miami (Ohio) coach Randy Walker will replace Barnett.

In the past few years, Barnett has turned down coaching opportunities at such top schools as Notre Dame, UCLA and Texas. He is returning to the school where he was once an assistant under Bill McCartney.

Barnett met with Tharp on Tuesday in Houston, where the agreement was set, according to media reports in Chicago and Denver.

Barnett's hiring came one day after Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak turned down a chance at the Colorado job.

Barnett was Colorado's original choice, but Tharp had trouble dealing with Barnett's expensive buyout clause.

Barnett signed an 11-year contract with Northwestern in 1996, but KCNC said Colorado won't have to pay Barnett's $250,000 buyout fee. Barnett apparently will settle with Northwestern on his own.

Northwestern was one of the worst programs in the country before Barnett arrived, having failed to win more than four games in a season since 1971.

The Wildcats won only eight games in Barnett's first three seasons, but the following year he led them to a 10-2 mark, including a 41-32 loss to Southern California in the Rose Bowl.

The Wildcats went 9-3 the following season, which ended with a 48-28 loss to Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl.

Northwestern returned to its losing ways the last two years, going 5-7 in 1997 and 3-8 in 1998. Barnett's overall record at Northwestern was 35-45-1 in seven seasons.

His only other head coaching job was at Fort Lewis, a Division II school in Durango where he compiled a 8-11-1 record in 1982-83.

 
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