He spoke to a man who had a small child riding on his shoulders for a while, and then a scraggly-looking stranger asked if he was Colorado's football coach and said, "Yeah, I've seen you!" Hawkins asked the man his name and shook his hand before the man walked out onto the street.
Later, after the group of more than a dozen reporters were worn out from lengthy conversations with Colorado senior tailback Hugh Charles, offense captain and 6-8 offensive tackle Tyler Polumbus, defensive tackle George Hypolite, Butkis Award runner-up Jordon Dizon and other players, Hawkins, with his black and gold Nike sneakers and sporty shades riding atop his head, eased into the center of a crowd of reporters and began sharing his philosophies of life and football.
On life, the Colorado coach might fairly be described as new-aged. He was asked about being one of the few college coaches with a blog, and of course about his son Cody, a redshirt freshman who starts at quarterback for the Buffs.
"I've obviously answered that a bunch over my career,"Hawkins said, "but I really do coach them all like they're my own kid. I'm not afraid to hug them and tell them I love them. I'm not afraid to discipline them, either."
Hawkins does not coach quarterbacks and he is not the offensive coordinator, he said, and the staff makes decisions on who will play by consensus. Hawkins told us that if the majority of the staff wanted another quarterback that's what would happen.
This is also not the first time Hawkins has coached his son.
"Here's a little factoid for you," Hawkins said. "I was an assistant coach for Bill Buckner and I coached him, coached Cody in baseball. Again, I let Bill do most of the work."
(Buckner was most famous for a soft ground ball that went between his legs when he was the first-baseman for the Boston Red Sox in game six of the 1986 World Series.)
Dizon, who was credited with 160 tackles this season and said he's missed at least 30, said Hawkins' style is contagious.
"He's one contagious guy," Dizon said. "Everything he does, you want to do. He's that energetic. A lot of people idolize him. He does things with a passion and heart. That's what a head coach needs to do. He needs to show that he's passionate about the game. It rubs off on us."
Sometimes Hawkins sounds more like Dr. Phil than a college football coach. Asked if practice or off-field conduct was more important this bowl week, Hawkins answered:
"It's a balance of life. It's an easy formula, but it's a hard one to follow. If you can go home and mix in a salad, and get a little exercise, and take care of your wife, and take care of your work, you're probably going to have a pretty good life. But if you get over one side or the other, it's probably not going to work out so get."
" I've said many, many times, I think I've become a better coach --- I don't know if I won more games, but I had more fun --- when I figured out that this whole is to make a difference in people's lives," Hawkins said. "At the end of the day, I'm just coaching football. But that's the whole thing, is to bring a positive influence to everybody else. If you do that, at the end of the day, when they put you in a pine box, they say 'yeah, I miss that guy. He brought a lot to this place.' But at the end of the day, if all they said is how many games I won, then I probably didn't do it so well."
His style seems to work for Colorado. After winning just two games last year the Buffs are 6-6 and the program seems to be moving in the right direction.
Alabama will face Colorado on Sunday at 7 p.m. (CST) and the game will be televised by ESPN.