Get Yer 'Hawk Love,' Part I

Wearing a black shirt and gold sports coat, Dan Hawkins was introduced to members of the media and roughly 150 Buffalo supporters as the new head football coach at Colorado. Inside, Part I of his press conference where he talked about the importance of family, academics and the goal of winning a national championship, among other things.

Opening Comments
Dan Hawkins:
Wow. I'm truly humbled, truly honored. It is a great day for me and my family. I've said for many, many years the No. 1 priority in my life is my family, and it always has been. Their nurturing and their care and having them in an environment that's conducive to their personal growth – that's one of the reasons I'm here. I think that you have that here.

My wife Misti has been with me for over 20 years. People ask me about the streaks and the records and championships and all that. While that matters, job security is not the most important thing in my life. My wife has seen me through a lot of highs and lows — fortunately more highs than lows. You don't want your daughter to be a football coach's wife. We said before we came here, there's two jobs in the family and hers was to take care of the family. I said what's mine, to create utter mayhem? (laughter)

But she's stood by me for many, many years, my best friend and my confidante. My children Ashley, Brittany, Cody and Drew have just been awesome in this deal. Particularly Drew who's going to give up a couple years of a high school experience to come here and meet new friends and play on a new team. So for he and I it's definitely an adventure. I appreciate you welcoming my family here, we're truly honored and truly blessed. I can't thank you enough for that.

Over the years there are always coaching changes around the country. It's kind of part of the profession. It's always enticing and entertaining to some degree to look at some of these positions. I can tell you this, I've been contacted by a lot of institutions and been very flattered and very floored.

Mike Bohn talked about the fit. And I believe in the fit. I've always looked for the right fit. And that fit is a place that has a quality of life, an academic zeal and a passion for a national championship football program. You look around the country and you put those things together and a lot of arrows point to the University of Colorado Buffaloes. I really believe that. So when this opportunity came up it's something that definitely went beyond piquing my interest. Because it was a place that I'd highlighted many, many years ago.

Some years ago, before this (club seat facility) was built, I took my kids and played catch down on the field, and took my wife around a little bit. Just because you go, ‘yeah, we could do Boulder.' There is also those places you go to and she would tell me, ‘Dan, no way here.'

But I think it's an outstanding fit for me. It's about having that quality of life and going out and having that zeal for excellence. I think that's embodied here.

There's tremendous tradition. I had the great pleasure of visiting with Coach Mac this morning. I asked him to write down a few thoughts that he thought I should be thinking about. He brought a notebook, I think it had about 50 pages in it. So I'm already way, way behind. But there's tremendous tradition here. I have tremendous respect for the coaches that have gone before me, and the players that have been here. We want to do everything we can in our power to make those Buffs feel welcome and part of the program because we need those guys to reach out in the community.

When it really came down to it figuring out whether I was going to stay (in Boise) or go, it came down to: Are you going to be comfortable, or are you going to have a sense of adventure?

I really just felt this was too great an opportunity to pass up.

I had an opportunity to talk with Coach Crowder this morning. Coaches always have sayings, and one is ‘You lose with potential and you win with achievers.' I really believe that we can be achievers here; we can get everything done in the classroom, in the community and on the football field that the fans, the faculty, the media want to see out of this place. I'm more than willing to take on this challenge.

I'm extremely, extremely humbled. I had an opportunity to meet with the football team before I came here ( to the press conference). Those are the guys really at the crosshairs of this program. I've got a bunch of guys that are reeling a little bit in Boise. And there's some guys that are reeling here, as well. But when you get down to it, it's about those student-athletes. It was an honor to speak to those guys and tell them a little bit about what I'm about.

It's going to take a combined effort of the regents and the boosters and the fans and the media and myself and our staff and the players to crank this thing up.

I think there's tremendous potential here. Colorado football has all the potential in the world to be a national championship program. I'm honored to lead that charge. Those people that know me know my conviction and spirit toward the academic side of it.

I've always told our football players and our recruits that I want good guys that want to graduate and who want to win rings. And I want all of that, and if they're not that kind of guy, then they're not our kind of guy. And I stand behind that.

Again, I'm very humbled to be here, very honored. It's a very special place and a special time and a great opportunity.

Q: What's your first order of business?
DH:
Well, we have to get through all this. I'm trying to get a bunch of databases. I need to connect with the players, with many of the supporters that are here and do that whole outreach program.

Recruiting is going to go dead here this weekend (dead period begins Monday), so you really can't go out and kids can't really go in. We'll do a ton of behind the scenes work in terms of looking at who's out there.

I would say this — publicly, I cannot comment on a specific recruit — but I'll say this: If you are a Buff recruit or if you're somebody that's interested in Colorado, you'd better get in the boat because we know how to do this deal. Our kids are gonna have fun, they're gonna have a great experience, they're gonna graduate and we're going to be all about excellence.

I'm still putting together a staff right now, which I'm very fired up about. That's not totally firmed up. There's still a lot of pieces to be put in place there. That's part of the process as well.

I need to recruit No. 1 the players on our team here first. I need to talk to them and their parents. I need to talk to people that are supportive and integral to what goes on here with Colorado football. Then get into the whole recruiting phase. That'll be a whirlwind dash until we hit signing day.

Q: With the bowl game in Boise, how do you shuffle between here and there and how do you wear those two hats?
DH:
With it being dead, there's not a lot you can do really other than watching tape and doing all those type of things. I'm pledging my full support to the Broncos and trying to beat Boston College. That'll be my No. 1 chore, as Coach Hank gets these guys ready to go out and play Clemson and beat Clemson. So it's a combination of getting ready for Boston College on one end, getting my staff firmed up and then watching a bunch of tape, and watching recruits and getting ready to get out on the road.

Q: When will you decide on assistant coaches?
DH:
Still working on that. We have some of those things in place a little bit right now. Obviously, we're working to firm up everything. I'm not going to make any formal announcements until we get down to the bitter end because we're still working some things out.

Q: Will you interview the current Colorado staff?
DH:
I'm going to talk to those guys. I think to some degree that'd be prudent. Again, just like when you recruit, it's all about the right fit, and finding about what those guys are about as coaches and people. But at the same time you may find guys and know it's just not the right fit. Coaching is too intimate, it's too much pressure, too much stress, too much time – you better have all those guys on the same page.

Q: You mentioned national championship. Is that realistic under the current landscape of college football …for Buff fans and the school to expect your team to play at some point for a national championship?
DH:
I tell you what, I think that's the goal. If you look at the Boise State program and you look at their goal sheet, you'd see that on there. I don't know that I'm always dealing with realistic, I don't know that fans are always realistic, I don't know that the media is always realistic. But I think that has to be a goal.

I'm like a lot of coaches, I have a lot of corny sayings. One of them is: There's two types of class, there's first and there's none. To me, you're either trying to be the best or you're not. That's going to be my effort, whether it's facilities or recruiting the kind of athletes that want to come in here.

I'm going to try to find that next Heisman Trophy winner. I'm going to try and find that No. 1 draft choice. Those are the guys that I'm gonna go after. It all starts in recruiting. We're going to definitely build a foundation here in Colorado.

I want every kid in Colorado that can play Division I football to want to be a Buff. And then beyond that, we'll spread out from there.

(A national title) definitely has to be part of the goal. Now, is that a longterm goal or a short-term goal? I know one thing, if you're a junior here in the football program and the coach has a five-year plan, that doesn't do him a lot of goal. To some degree it has to be a one-year plan that expands to a five-year plan.

Definitely down the road, that's the plan.