A Boise State Insider's Take on Dan Hawkins

Kevin Hiatt has been following Boise State athletics for years. He's been publisher of BroncoCountry.com since 2002 and has run a web site devoted to the Broncos since 1997. He spoke with BSN Thursday to give his perspective on Dan Hawkins, who will be named head coach at Colorado today.

BSN: Other BCS schools have come calling for Dan Hawkins in the past, and he's not shown interest. Why do you think he's wanting to come to Colorado?
Kevin Hiatt:
I think that what it is is that he was looking for the right mix of everything that he likes. He's a different kind of coach. You'll see that when you get around him.

He likes things that other coaches maybe don't consider as much. He's really a family guy. And by that I don't mean just his family, but his coaching family. I know he wanted to go somewhere where all the things that they would need, like housing and good pay, it would be beneficial for them to go. I think Colorado gives him that over some of the places that have come calling or wanted him to interview or even just thrown him feelers.

As well, his No. 1 is success. He just wants to win. And I think that Colorado provides that something that say, Oregon State or some of those other colleges don't have, and that's a history of winning. It's been proven that you can win there. And obviously he feels that it's the right location for him to be able to bring that back.

BSN: You said he's a different kind of coach. What is it about him that's made him so successful at Boise State?
It's a mix of things. I'm sure that you've heard that he's kind of a Zen Master kind of guy. He's one of the most cerebral coaches that you'll find. He will quote Nietzche, he will quote (Sun Tzu's) "The Art of War." Where other people will usually use emotion to motivate players, he uses the players himself. He uses: This isn't about this game, this is about the rest of your life. This is about creating a pattern of living, a pattern of approaching life that will bring you success now, but will also bring you success 10 years, 20 years, 50 years down the road.

But at the same time, he's a very good player's coach. Players love him. And he surrounds himself with …he's very, very, very picky with the coaches that he brings in, the players that he brings in. He surrounds himself with people that are just quality. It's not just what they can do, it's what they can do and who they are. He's passed over recruits before that actually wanted to come to Boise State, but who he didn't feel were the right make-up of player, whether it was their family life was hard and the kid had a bad outlook on life. He's gone for maybe a little less physically talented (player), but better as a community type of person.

BSN: You mention recruiting, that's something CU fans are concerned about — the difference between recruiting athletes that will compete in the WAC vs. the Big 12, players that will compete against Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, etc. Do you think he can go head-to-head for kids against programs like that?
He would regularly go up against Pac 10 teams. In the past, we would lose out nine times out of 10. That's changed recently, probably in the past two or three years. They can definitely evaluate the talent and get the kind of talent that can hang with the Big 12. I think at Colorado he's going to have more success bringing them in than he did at Boise State.

Recruiting is one of the things he excels at. When he sits down with parents in the living room, he just comes across as who he is. He's sincere, honest. He comes across really well.

BSN: One of the things CU athletic director Mike Bohn has said is that he's looking for somebody who can be really good with all the different constituents — from the booster clubs, to the faculty and administration, the media. Do you think Hawkins will be able to excel in those different arenas?
I really do. Like I said, he's cerebral. He's going to the kind of coach that professors are going to relate to. No. 1, he still wants to learn. He's always reading books, and not the kind of books you think. Not something on Bear Bryant. He's out there reading philosophy and religion. That's just who he is and how he coaches. That's him.

The media, he's always been a media darling at Boise State. Like I say, with the players and their families, he comes across as being very open, very confident about himself and very self-assured. You're going to get a guy who's just going to come in from Day 1, and he's just going to wow everyone.

On assistant coaches
(It's been reported that Boise State offensive coordinator Chris Peterson will take over as head coach in Boise, and defensive coordinator Ron Collins will stay on Petersons' staff. Hiatt didn't know who Hawkins was bring to Boulder with him, but thought that tight ends coach Bryan Harsin would stay at Boise State. Hiatt offered some insight on a two potential assistant coaches, who are on Boise State's staff now, and could end up in Boulder).

KH: One you'll love is Coach (Robert) Tucker. He's a safeties coach. He is a recruiting genius. He's a guy that goes in there, and kids just love him. When we beat the Pac 10 (in recruiting a player), it's usually because of Tucker.

Defensive line coach Romeo (pronounce Ro-MAY-o) Bandison, he is an absolute demon and a genius of a defensive line coach. Boise State has led the WAC and has been among the top 10 in the nation in stopping the run. A lot of that is Romeo. He's taken walk-ons and turned them into all-conference players.

BSN: The reputation of Boise State's offense is that they're this pass-happy offense. But that's not really accurate, is it?
It's not accurate at all. If the coaches had their preference between running and passing, they'd run. The last regular season game for Boise State was Louisiana Tech. They ran the ball 32 of the last 33 plays of the game.

BSN: What is it about Boise State that gives them the reputation for the wacky offense. They go for it on 4th down a lot?
Oh yeah. You'll find that with Hawkins. He's a gambler. His motto is attack. Like I say, he reads Sun Tzu. He reads a book about Crazy Horse. He reads these things, and it's all attack, attack, attack. That's the way he coaches. He'll go for it on a 4th and 2 on his 30 yard line. He does it all the time.

BSN: That puts a lot of pressure on a defense.
It does. But the coaches play it that way. They say, ‘we're going for it because we know you guys can step up.'

BSN: What about his son, Cody. I've never seen him play, I've just read about him.
He's an absolutely phenomenal high school quarterback. He's only 5-11, but he went to the Elite 11 quarterback camp. He tests off the charts when it comes to football smarts — reading a defense and that sort of thing.

His high school stats, he's undefeated since 6th grade. He led the No. 1 team in Idaho this last year, and threw 46 touchdowns and five interceptions.

BSN: Do you think that'll translate to college, that kind of success?
Yeah. I'm a firm believer in height and weight doesn't matter, especially at quarterback. It's how smart you are, how strong your arm is, that kind of thing. His arm is good enough. But when it comes to making the reads and making the throws, the kid's a natural.

BSN: Do you have a sense what he's going to do? Go to Boise State or follow his dad to Colorado?
The reason he chose Boise State is because he wanted to play for his dad. My gut, I think he walks on at CU. He won't get a scholarship. He wasn't going to get a scholarship to Boise State. Hawk said that if he chose Boise State, he had to walk on. So he turned down an offer from Oregon and a couple of other schools to commit to walk on at Boise. With Hawk leaving, I think he walks on at Colorado.

BSN: Why did he want his son to walk on?
Because he said he didn't want there to be any question if he ever started that there was favoritism, that he was giving his kid a scholarship over someone else who deserved it. It was all about earning your own way.

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