Q&A with Bill Hawkins: Part 2

Bill Hawkins was an All-American defensive end at the University of Miami in 1988. He has all types of interesting stories and he shared a lot of them in this exclusive interview with CanesTime.com.

Thanks to CanesTime.com's Raul Tano for conducting the interview.

CanesTime.com: Let's talk about the coaching change. You played with Shannon.

Bill Hawkins: He was in my recruiting class, actually.

CanesTime.com: What do you remember about him from back in the day?

BH: Shannon was never really gifted physically, but he was a technician. Always was and probably still is. He always understood his responsibilities. Any time you have a new player into the lineup, everyone else in the lineup kind of looks at him and asks themselves ‘can he live up to it?' Randy did that. He came in, he always knew his assignment. As a defensive lineman, sometimes you look behind you and if the guy behind you knows his stuff, sometimes you play differently. Maurice Crum used to play weakside and he gave me that feeling, and Randy was the same way. He came in as a freshman and always understood what was going on. He could call plays, he was just a technician. He went on to play for Dallas and did the same thing. He was the first rookie to ever start at outside linebacker in almost thirty years. He just knew how to play his position. When he was in, there was no concern about that position. I always played confidently knowing that he was going to back me up.

CanesTime.com: Shannon's said a few times in press conferences that since Jimmy was his coach, he's taken a lot from Jimmy. You've already alluded to Jimmy a couple times, but how was he behind closed doors?

BH: Jimmy Johnson believed in a couple things. Number one was conditioning. He ran the hell out of us. When you're playing, you don't particularly like that, but it showed because we always still had punch in the fourth quarter. It's like a fighter training for a big fight. If you're in great shape, you're going to win the later rounds. That's the first thing about Jimmy. Hell, he almost ran me off a time or two during my first year. I kept looking at the weight room door thinking "God, I have to go home." Another thing I really have to comment about is that he was an incredible motivator. You may not have liked the guy, you may even think he's an idiot. Make fun of his hair, make fun of the way he talked, but he would start talking and you'd be ready to strap on gear like a Spartan and go out there and give your life for the guy. He had the ability to rally the troops to the point where you were ready to literally lay it on the line, and that's what we did. Year after year, game after game that's what we did. Sometimes we came out flat, but we would always come together and win the game. When we didn't, it was the referees fault (laughter). Jimmy was a tough-nosed guy and he was fair. Here's a quote from Jimmy Johnson during my first year at one of the team meetings. They were going to move me to offensive line and I was in a little bit of pain. I liked playing defense; I didn't want to be the stereotypical big fat white guy. I said "Coach, don't do this. I'll work hard, I want to play defense." Jimmy said "You know son, if you work hard, I promise you good things will happen for you." He was right. I worked really hard and was rewarded by him and had some pretty good success in college and the pros. So yea, Jimmy really believed in conditioning, preparation, hard work ethic, and could motivate anyone to do anything. That's Jimmy Johnson.

CanesTime.com: In my little experience, and I've only been doing this for a little while, Randy's been very coy with the media. No one really has any insight to his personality either, because they are used to seeing him up in the booth with a headset on. He's always appeared almost as a quiet and reserved person. Do you think he has the same fire that Jimmy had?

BH: You have to watch out for guys that are quiet, because they'll surprise you. And let me tell you something about Jimmy. Jimmy used to lie to the press all the time after practice. So if Randy's playing coy with the press, that's great, because he's lying to you and he's right in Jimmy's mold. Time will tell.

CanesTime.com: Hey, I'm a fan first. He can lie all he wants if it's good for the team.

BH: Yea, just beat Florida State and have about 10, 11, or 12 wins in a season. But yea, I think Randy is going to be successful. Time will tell, but obviously the guy can recruit, obviously he's a defensive genius. We'll find out, but I'm very happy he was promoted. I'm very happy that someone who knows the program, someone who's lived it and understands it was promoted. If we had just brought in some guy from outside, I don't know…

CanesTime.com: Well it had been done before. All the previous coaches had been brought from the outside, except for Coker.

BH: Butch wasn't technically from the outside, but Jimmy I think really created the bond. His work ethic and the "us against them" mentality really made us successful. Dennis [Erickson] came from the outside. You know, it's weird. He's the only one of the coaches who won two titles and everyone hates him.

CanesTime.com: How was Dennis different from Jimmy?

BH: Oh, he was completely different. Of course, I never played for him. I like to think that Jimmy followed me after I left, but of course it was just a coincidence. First of all, he was an offensive mind. I don't think he was as much of a disciplinarian, but like I said I never played for him so I couldn't tell you. I know he was smart enough to leave the things that worked alone. He had some success. I still remember that 4th down and 40 pass against Notre Dame. That was delicious [chuckles]. And that game where they beat Texas in the Cotton Bowl and had like 300 yards in penalties. I couldn't have been more proud. It was beautiful. I've never been more proud in my life. You cannot beat a team any harder than they did.

CanesTime.com: I know you're running short on time, but let's talk about some of these games you participated in. Right off the top of my head, here's a disappointing one. 1988 versus Notre Dame. Thoughts?

BH: 31-30. Angels vs. a**holes, Catholics vs. Convicts. Those were the t-shirts at the game.

CanesTime.com: Did you get robbed?

BH: Absolutely. How can the ground cause a fumble? Cleveland Gary hit the goal line and the ball came out. Tell me how that's a fumble.

CanesTime.com: I couldn't tell you.

BH: You know, during one period we were about 14 points away from triple consecutive national championships. We had some success. Jimmy used to say that to be a champion you have to beat the eleven opponents and sometimes the referees. He was right.

CanesTime.com: The last thing I want to ask you is actually a last minute addition. Being that you still live in South Florida, I'm sure you're aware of the situation going on with the Orange Bowl. What's your favorite memory from playing in the Orange Bowl?

BH: There's nothing I don't like about the Orange Bowl. Is it a modern facility? Of course not. Does it have skyboxes where businesses and corporations can make money? No. Does it have all the atmosphere in the world? Yes. You have to play in the OB to ever really appreciate it. It's old school. It's what you grew up with. All this talk about a new stadium for this team and that team, screw it. It's just a bunch of hogwash if you ask me. I'd hate to see Miami move to Pro Player Stadium. Pro Player Stadium is nicer. It's nicer for the players, it's nicer for the fans, but the nostalgia of the Orange Bowl…I think we'll miss a lot of that. I love the Orange Bowl, I absolutely love it. It's got nooks and crannies. It has so many stories.

CanesTime.com: You don't have one story that supersedes the other ones?

BH: I'm telling you, man. It was absolutely glorious every time I came there to play. Heck, I don't even think we lost there while I was playing. It was like how many games we won in a row. It was awesome. I loved it. I mean we won the national title there, so that obviously has to be a part of it. Any time you hit [Florida Gators quarterback] Kerwin Bell out of bounds or something and send him to the hospital, that's a good time [laughter]. Back when I played it was a whole different attitude.

CanesTime.com: What was different?

BH: Everything. It was crazy.

CanesTime.com: Do you think people can get away with that stuff today?

BH: Of course not, people would get arrested for that stuff. If I were a prosecutor, I'd have to prosecute myself for the things I've done.

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