Get Some 'Hawk Love,' Part II

Dan Hawkins will be head coach at Colorado effective Jan. 1. Friday he addressed the controversy that surrounded the CU program in recent years, his football philosophy and the prospect of his son Cody, a star prep quarterback, following his dad to Boulder.

Q: Academic and athletic excellence is part of your contract. Can you talk about the incentives there?
Dan Hawkins:
I think their certainly nice and their warranted, and every football coach shouldn't shy away from earning his money, and doing things he has do to earn money. You have to pay a mortgage and those sorts of things. I think to some degree it's appropriate. You're held accountable for their academic progress, you're held accountable for their actions on and off the field. That's the reality of college football. The head football coach is responsible for his guys in all phases.

I commend Mike for putting it into the contract. I think it's warranted. But even if it wasn't, it would be a big priority of mine. I'm not going to bring kids in here …it's not good if you win a national championship if you don't graduate kids. It's not good if they win a ring and they don't get an education. That's not part of the mission.

You guys know this, the uniqueness of college athletics is it's part entertainment, it's part business and it's part education. And you better do all three pretty darn well, or you're not going to be around here very long.

Q: Can you talk about your style of offense, and what's made it so prolific over the years?
Much of my philosophy in life is embodied in football. Football is the medium, it's not always necessarily the message. I think there's some fundamental things that all great football things do. One, it starts on defense. You better be able to stop the run. You better not let people run the football on you. You've got to take away the big plays, and you've got to create turnovers.

And when you look at offense, you have to be able to run the football. You have to run the football. I know guys that love to keep balls in the air, and balls thrown around. But as you look at our offense schematically, and what we've done scoring points, it's been exciting, it's been one of the top scoring teams in the country. But we've also had 1,000-yard rushers. This year we didn't , but we were one of the top rushing teams in the country.

You better have a physical style of running the football.

The other part, where I think we're maybe a little bit different, is I'm all about throwing the ball vertical. And I'm not afraid to take some chances and do some funky stuff. I talked to some guys this morning – you can't play not to lose. And I've never played that way. To teach a kid to be successful, you've got to get outside your comfort zone, you've got to be not afraid to take some risks and not afraid to fail.

We're going to do some things formationally, we're going to do some things schematically that are a little different, a little funky. We're not afraid to get out of the box. Just because you haven't seen it or somebody hasn't done it, doesn't mean we're not going to try it. We've tried just about everything in the past four years.

I think it's fun for the kids, I think it's fun for the fans, I think it's hard to defend. When get that mentality where it's full throttle start to finish … we've been accused sometimes of running it up on people. I always laugh about that. The game is 60 minutes long. So does that mean we slow it down. Is that what you want as a fan? We're sitting there and we're up 35-7 in the third quarter, so we just take a knee every time?

If you're running a business and my guys are working for you, and they work 8 to 5, does that mean at 2:30 if they've got their work done, they just shut it down and play on the Internet? I hope not.

We're going to play our guts out from the opening kickoff until that official picks that ball up and puts it in the air. And we're not going to worry about the score. We're gonna go. We're gonna go as hard as we can go and as fast as we can go. That typifies my philosophy. We're going to attack. We're going to get our guys on the attack.

Q: How exciting is it for you – you mentioned recruiting before. I'm sure there were guys at Boise State you would loved to have gone after, but you didn't really have the chance at them. Now, is it exciting to think you could go after them and get them to come to Boulder?
There's no question we've had high profile players that have had tremendous interest in (Boise State) who go, ‘Hey Coach Hawk, we love you, we love what you do, we love the program, but let's face realities here.' And there are some realities there.

But to go get that elite athlete and to bring him in here, yeah, that's enticing to be able to do that. And I totally feel like we'll do that.

I know parents, No. 1, they want their kids coming to a place that's safe. They want their kids coming to a place where they're going to be nurtured. They want their kids to get a degree. And I think all those things, and to get this thing to a national championship level – that's a great fit.

Q: Rumors about this job have been going on for about a week now; how good does it feel to be able to talk honestly and openly about it?
Exactly. Ask my kids. I'm very honest, and sometimes to a fault. All these media guys have my cell number. They call me and I call them back. I don't try to hide. But I also try to be very truthful to the degree I can be truthful. I tried to keep my team apprised of what was going on every step of the way. Again, you have media running rampant making speculation.

This deal was never done until it was done. You assume things are gonna happen, but the contract just got approved today (by a unanimous 9-0 vote by the CU regents). What if I got in the elevator with Mr. DiStefano and he says, ‘Sorry, it was 5-4. Have a nice trip back.'

So it's never over until it's over. But, yeah, I am an honest guy, a truthful guy. I don't like to hold things out, I like to be honest. You guys (the media) have a job to do; I know people want to know. It is tough when you have to say, ‘No comment.' I'm not a good now comment guy.

On how the Buffalo players have been through the wringer the past year
We just have to jump into the foxhole with them. This is going to be a combination of things. I think you've got to get in there and you've got to love ‘em up, and you've got to roll up your sleeves. You've got to let them know you love them and you care about them, and we're going to get through this thing.

It's like anytime you have to have a step-dad enter the equation, that guy can't come in from Day 1 and demand total authority. You've got to earn it. And I've got to get in there and earn it. Our staff's got to get in there and earn it. We've to bring those guys back around to that point.

Q: Two-part question for you. Given the controversy that has surrounded this program the last couple years, did that figure in in any way to you making the decision to come here. Second, where do you think the program sits now after what it's been through the last couple years.?
Well, there are a lot of people that tried to use that situation as a reason for me not to come here. Why would you want to go there and try and deal with those issues? Why would you want to do that? Here you sit in Boise and you're fat and sassy, things are good. Why would you want to put yourself in that situation?

No. 1, if I would have listened to all the nay Sayers in my career…When I took over for Dirk (Koetter), every coach I knew said, ‘Hawk, don't stay. Don't do it. He's won 20 games in two years and been to two bowl games and all you're going to do is do worse and everybody's going to think you're an idiot.'

The more they said that, the more I said, ‘Oh yeah? You think so? Well I'll show you a little something.'

I'm not making judgments one way or another. I told the players down there just before I came up here. We're starting this thing and doing our deal, and I'm not making assumptions good, bad or indifferent of what's gone on here. We're starting from this day forward and moving ahead. We're going to put some things in place, and that's going to be the formula for our success.

What happened, happened. I don't know all the exact details. But I think this thing has tremendous potential. There are good kids on that team. There are outstanding people at this university and in this community. I'm basing my energy on getting those people together and getting this thing going like we all want it to go.

The other part of your question: I used an analogy, and I don't watch a lot of movies, but the (media) were stalking me in Boise, so I took my boys and we went and saw "King Kong" at about 9:30 the other night. I think the last movie I saw before that was "Guns of Navarone." (laughter) But when you watch "King Kong," there's a part where dinosaurs are running down through this narrow gully and bodies are flying and these men are running. There's chaos and mayhem, and it seems like it goes on forever. People always ask me how's this process been, and I say, watch "King Kong" and when you see that scene, you'll know what I've been going through.

There's been a lot of turmoil. These (CU players) have been war torn. It's like "Saving Private Ryan." They've been trying to get up on the beach, and have been taking a lot of bullets. A lot of bullets and a lot of shrapnel. We need to take these guys and get them up on the mainland and get some cool wind in their hair and get this thing going a little bit.

There's no question there's going to be some scars. But we'll get over that. Every great family does. Those are things that you get through.

But I feel for the players, the fans, the coaches, everybody. It's been very, very tough on everybody.

Like I said before I came out here, we just need to throw a little Hawk Love out there and get this thing going.

Q: Was there a concerted effort to keep you in Boise?
When you say was there a concerted run at keeping me at Boise – this thing was never about money, and it's never been about money. I could've made several times over what I'm making here. It's not about money for me. It's not about going, ‘Mike Bohn's going to pay me this, what are you gonna do?' That was never it.

So I didn't want to get into that because that was not the issue. The issue was where was Dan Hawkins right now personally and where does he want to go? The challenge of going out there and proving yourself right now, there's no way (Boise) could offer that. And I love those guys, but it never got into a bidding war.

My athletic director (at Boise) knows me, and he was laughing because he told our president, ‘Remember how Hawk is, don't tell him all the bad things at Colorado, that'll only make him want to go.' (laughter)

Q: Dan, can you give us the textbook definition of Hawk Love?
Hawk Love. You want my wife to answer that? (laughter) I would just say this. In all honesty, I'm a very genuine person, I'm a down-to-earth person. I think that's one of the things I bring to this thing is my passion and my care and concern for the guys, for the fans, for the media, for the faculty. And I really do have a deep appreciation for everybody's role in the process.

Am I perfect? No, I'm not. But this isn't about Dan Hawkins. I told the football team, this isn't about me coming in and going, ‘I'm all knowing, all seeing, I'm omnipotent, I'm the king.' That's not what it's about.

But it's about coming in and being sensitive to everyone's needs and wants and desires and trying to formulate a plan so that people feel valued and important and have a part in the process. I'm working together with Mike and the president and the chancellor and everyone else to bring this place to the level that everyone wants. So that the faculty is fired up, the fans are fired up, the players are fired up.

If you talk to people that have been around me, that's just the guy I am. I know you guys have a job to do and I appreciate that.

Q: When you talke about Child C (oldest son, Cody) is he going to follow you here to Colorado?
I've always said the one key in recruiting is recruit the mom. So I'm recruiting the mom real hard right now (laughter). I said before that I think some people are actually more disappointed about Cody not playing there than me leaving. But he is a very, very good player. He was the Player of the Year in Idaho. He went to the Elite 11 camp in California, where they ranked him fourth in that group. He's not the tallest guy around, but the guy can sling the ball. He's very knowlegable and he's a great kid. All of those things I'd love to have in our football program, so if I can win his mom over…

Q: Colorado has a tradition of making Nebraska it's archrival. Have you thought yet whether you're going to embrace that tradition?
No question. I think everybody has those. That's something that we totally and fully embrace. That's one of the great things about college football is having those and accepting those rivalries.

That being said, there's also some rivalries within the conference of guys winning national championships. So you better be rivals with those guys, as well. It's an outstanding conference with great teams and you're going to face that every week.

But the Nebraska-Colorado rivalry has been great for college football and we're certainly going to embrace that.

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