Gary Barnett is returning to the University of Colorado. But for the Buffs faithful that just got excited to see a coach who was involved in the National Championship, three Big 8 titles and the school’s only Big 12 title, there will only be guarded optimism with the announcement of Barnett’s return. Because Barnett’s not returning to the sidelines.
CU and KOA announced Friday that Barnett will join the broadcast team for Colorado football on a limited basis this fall, and in 2016, he will replace the legendary Larry Zimmer as the full-time analyst.
Barnett will enter the radio booth for two games this fall, a road game at UCLA (Oct. 31) and the home finale against Southern California (Nov. 13), which will also be Zimmer’s last game at Folsom Field as he wraps up his 42nd season with the team. Barnett will work his 10th and final year as a regular commentator for Sports USA Radio Network, working top games around the nation before making the move to the Buffaloes full time.
“I think it’s great timing for me and hopefully for the university,” Barnett said in a release from the university. “Going through the new facilities (at CU) just really made me want to be a part of this. I’ve enjoyed traveling around the country for the last 10 years, but I gave this a lot of thought and I am looking forward to it. I also appreciate Larry being in favor of it, having the support of the broadcasting icon that he is. I think we’ll have a lot of fun.”
“Gary is a dear friend and our relationship goes back to when he was a young assistant coach,” Zimmer said. “I couldn’t be happier with Gary taking my seat on the CU broadcasts. When he took the job doing the national radio college games, we sat on my patio and went over my charts and the type of preparation that I did for a game. So, in a way, I had some input in his training to be a radio broadcaster. He has come a long way since then, and I’m looking forward to working with him for the USC game and possibly others, and listening in the future.”
Barnett left the Colorado football program as head coach in 2005 under difficult circumstances. Disappointing play and off-field issues forced then-athletic director Mike Bohn to relieve Barnett of his duties in December of that year following a 70-3 blowout loss to Texas in the Big 12 Championship.
“I respect that decision,” Barnett said in his outgoing press conference, “I didn’t like that decision — I didn’t resign my position — but I wholeheartedly respect the responsibility and decisions leaders have to make. Mike felt like he had to make this decision.”
Barnett finished 49-38 in seven seasons at CU with a head coaching résumé that includes a Big 12 Conference championship, four Big 12 North titles and two AP Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.
Barnett is content to let current head coach Mike MacIntrye steer the ship for the Buffs having fully entrenched himself as a radio analyst with Sports USA Radio Network over the last decade.
Colorado, who has won just seven games over the past three years, has a long way to go before it resembles the team Barnett remembers from his time patrolling the Folsom sideline. Barnett is, no doubt, hoping that comes while he is on the mic.