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Gary Barnett
Barnett at Fiesta Bowl cropped.jpg

Sport Football
Born May 23, 1946 (1946-05-23) (age 63)
Place of birth Florida Lakeland, FL
Career highlights
Overall 92-95-2
Coaching stats
College Football DataWarehouse
1995, 1996 Big Ten Championship
2001 Big 12 Conference Championship
1995, 1996 Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year (AP)
2001, 2004 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year (AP)
Playing career
1966-1969 Missouri
Position WR
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Fort Lewis College

Gary Barnett (born May 23, 1946 in Lakeland, Florida) is a former college football head coach. He was the head coach of the Northwestern Wildcats from 1992 to 1999. He left Northwestern for the Colorado Buffaloes, where he was head coach from 1999 to 2005, though he was suspended briefly in the 2004 offseason due to events stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct by several members of the football team.[1]



Barnett went to high school at Parkway central in Chesterfield, Missouri. Barnett graduated from the University of Missouri in 1969 with a bachelors degree in social studies. He continued on to get his masters degree in 1971 in education. Barnett played wide receiver for Missouri from 1966–1969. He lettered his senior year under coach Dan Devine.


Barnett started his coaching career at the University of Missouri as a graduate assistant from 1969–1971 under coach Al Onofrio. After he graduated, he was a successful high school coach at Air Academy High School in Colorado Springs, Colorado for eleven years (9 as head coach). His teams won 6 conference titles and reached the state semi-finals twice (1980 and 1981). Barnett then began his head coaching at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. After two seasons as head coach, he left on February 20, 1984 to become an assistant coach at Colorado under head coach Bill McCartney. He was the running backs coach for the first season, but switched to quarterbacks and fullbacks coach for the next 7 seasons. On December 3, 1990, he was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. His first game as OC was against Notre Dame in the 1991 Orange Bowl which Colorado won to earn their first (and only) NCAA Division I-A national football championship.



Later in 1991, he left Colorado to become the head coach at Northwestern, then a perennial doormat team. In 1995, Barnett led Northwestern to the Big Ten Conference title and the 1996 Rose Bowl, their first since 1949. The Wildcats lost 41–32 to USC [1]. The following year, the Wildcats reached the Florida Citrus Bowl, losing 48–28 to Tennessee. Barnett turned around a program that holds the record for longest losing streak in Division I-A to a championship caliber team.


In 1999, Barnett left Northwestern after eight seasons to become the 22nd head coach of Colorado. His career at Colorado was generally successful; however, he was disgraced and his reputation tarnished by a recruiting scandal, insensitive off-field remarks and failure to maintain the on-field success of his predecessors. Colorado was alleged to have enticed recruits to come to Colorado with sex and alcohol during recruiting visits causing the school to self-impose harsher recruiting rules than any other Division I-A school. That scandal, coupled with Barnett's dismissive comments about former placekicker Katie Hnida, who alleged that she had been raped by a teammate, led to Barnett's temporary suspension in 2004 during the off-season. Barnett was reinstated before the start of the 2004 season, and went on to coach the team to an 8–5 record, earning Big 12 Coach of the Year honors along the way.

Barnett continued as coach in 2005, leading the Buffaloes to a 7–2 start. However, on December 9, 2005, following consecutive losses to Iowa State and Nebraska in the Buffaloes' last two regular-season games, and a 70–3 blowout by the eventual national champion Texas Longhorns in the Big 12 championship game, Barnett's contract was bought out in a $3 million settlement. Colorado then went on to play in the Champs Sports Bowl losing to Clemson. The loss is officially credited to Barnett, even though he was no longer with Colorado.

Colorado was the Big 12 North Champion 4 of the 7 years under Barnett, and Big 12 Champion one of those years (2001). Colorado was also ranked #2 in the nation and part of a controversy with the BCS Poll in the 2001 season when the Nebraska Cornhuskers were selected ahead of Oregon and Colorado for the National Championship game, even though Colorado had just beat Nebraska 62–36.

In June 2007, the Buffaloes were placed under probation for two years and fined $100,000 for undercharging 133 student-athletes for meals over a six year span (2000–01 to 2005–06 encompassing Barnett's tenure at Colorado) resulting in the major infraction.[2] The football program, with 86 of the 133 student-athletes involved, also lost one scholarship for the next three seasons.[2]


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl Coaches# AP°
Fort Lewis Raiders (NAIA Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) (1982–1983)
1982 Fort Lewis 4-5-1 3-4-1 5th
1983 Fort Lewis 4-6 4-4 4th
Fort Lewis: 8-11-1
Northwestern (Big Ten) (1992–1998)
1992 Northwestern 3-8 3-5 6th
1993 Northwestern 2-9 0-8 10th
1994 Northwestern 3-7-1 2-6 10th
1995 Northwestern 10-2 8-0 1st L, 41-32 Rose Bowl 7 8
1996 Northwestern 9-3 7-1 T-1st L, 48-28 Comp USA Citrus Bowl 16 15
1997 Northwestern 5-7 3-5 8th
1998 Northwestern 3-9 0-8 11th
Northwestern: 35-45-1
Colorado (Big 12) (1999–2005)
1999 Colorado 7-5 5-3 3rd (North Division W, 62-28 Bowl
2000 Colorado 3-8 3-5 4th (North Division)
2001 Colorado 10-3 7-1 1st L, 38-16 Fiesta Bowl 9 9
2002 Colorado 9-5 7-1 1st (North Division) L, 31-28 (OT) Alamo Bowl 21 20
2003 Colorado 5-7 3-5 T-4th (North Division)
2004 Colorado 8-5 4-4 1st (North Division) W, 33-28 Houston Bowl
2005 Colorado 7-5 5-3 1st (North Division) L, 19-10 Champs Sports Bowl
Colorado: 49-39 34-22
Total: 85-82-1
      National Championship         Conference Title         Conference Division Title
Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.

After Colorado

He operates the Gary Barnett Foundation which was formed in February 2005. The foundation is a tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated to the support of educational programs for economically disadvantaged and at-risk youth. There were rumors that Missouri was thinking of hiring Barnett during the 2005 season. Source He began working as a TV commentator for the BCS show on Fox Sports Net in 2006, and continues to do so to this day. Barnett also is a commentator for Sports USA.

External links


  1. ^ "Sixth rape allegation surfaces at CU". CNN. 20 February 2004. Retrieved 2006-12-01.  
  2. ^ a b "Colorado put on probation, fined $100,000 for undercharging meals". 2007-06-21. Retrieved 2007-06-21.  
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jay McNitt
Fort Lewis College Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Bill Cooke
Preceded by
Francis Peay
Northwestern University Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Randy Walker
Preceded by
Rich Brooks
Paul "Bear" Bryant Award
Succeeded by
Bruce Snyder
Preceded by
Joe Paterno
Walter Camp Coach of the Year
Succeeded by
Bruce Snyder
Preceded by
Rick Neuheisel
University of Colorado Head Football Coach
Succeeded by
Dan Hawkins


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