Okruch replaced for former CU coach

Updated: February 3, 2004, 2:52 AM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- University of Colorado football coach Gary Barnett fired his defensive coordinator Monday, replacing him with a former CU coach.

Vince Okruch, 48, has been either coordinator or co-coordinator since coming with Barnett to Boulder in 1999. The two had been together for 13 seasons, including seven years at Northwestern and six at CU, including all five years with Barnett as CU's head coach and one when Okruch was a grad assistant at CU in 1984 when Barnett first joined the CU staff as an assistant.

"It was a very difficult thing to do, but I thought long and hard and I had to make a change," Barnett said in a press release. "Vince is a good man and a good football coach. It was a tough thing to do, especially since we've been together for 13 years."

Replacing Okruch is Mike Hankwitz, who was a member of the Buffalo coaching staff from 1985 to 1994 under former head coach Bill McCartney.

Hankwitz, 56, was most recently at Arizona, where last fall he was defensive coordinator before being named interim head coach a month into the season.

He was defensive coordinator for seven years at CU, coaching the defenses that won Big Eight Conference championships in 1989, 1990 and 1991. The Buffaloes won the national title in 1990.

After leaving CU, Hankwitz was a defensive coordinator at Kansas and Texas A&M in addition to Arizona. Barnett said he and Hankwitz have remained in close contact over the years.

In other coaching moves, Barnett announced that Darian Hagan, 34, was joining the team as defensive technical intern. Hagan was CU's quarterback on the Big Eight championship teams from 1989 to 1991.

Tim Ridder, 27, is the new offensive graduate assistant for the offensive line, where he will be reunited with Dave Brobely, his college coach at Notre Dame. Ridder played three seasons for the Indianapolis Colts from 1999 to 2001 before suffering a career-ending knee injury.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press