Don’t expect former Boise State football coach Dan Hawkins to lampoon his former players and colleagues during the broadcast Saturday of the Boise State-San Diego State game.
Hawkins will serve as the game analyst for ESPNU. He was the Broncos’ head coach from 2001 to 2005 and assistant head coach from 1998 to 2000.
In those roles, he coached current head coach Bryan Harsin, offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, offensive line coach Scott Huff, linebackers coach Andy Avalos and defensive backs coach Julius Brown.
He also hired Harsin, Yates and special teams/running backs coach Kent Riddle.
Hawkins, who lives in Boise, has seats in the Stueckle Sky Center but has attended only a couple games since he left for Colorado after the 2005 season.
“It’s easy to sit on the fence and criticize,” Hawkins said. “It’s easy when you don’t know what’s going on. I don’t usually jump to that side of the fence on any coach. A lot of times, the person you’re with will ask, ‘What would you do here?’ I say, ‘It doesn’t matter what I would do. I’m not there. I don’t know exactly what’s going on there.’ I probably deal with it a little bit different than some guys — I don’t know. I see a little different side of it. There are a number of answers — there’s not always one clear-cut answer.”
Hawkins watches the Broncos on TV when he can, so he has a good feel for the team already.
“It will be fun,” he said. “As I go around the country, almost every game I do I know several guys. Some I coached with, some I coached against.”
Despite his long-standing relationships with the Broncos’ coaches, he doesn’t talk to them often, he said.
“They’re busy, and I never want to be the Ghost of Christmas Past,” he said. “A lot of people say, ‘It’s good to see you back (in Boise).’ I’ll laugh, because I’ve been back. I don’t try to run around town and broadcast it. I just try to lay low and play with my grandkids and do my deal.”
Hawkins never sold his house when he left for Colorado, where he was fired in November 2010 after posting a 19-39 record in four-plus seasons (2006-10).
Hawkins was 53-11 with four conference championships and three Top 25 seasons in five years at Boise State.
The success of Hawkins and Chris Petersen (92-13 in eight years) created some huge expectations for Harsin to inherit.
“They’re doing a great job,” Hawkins said. “There are some people who were disappointed in the season last year (8-5), which really was a pretty good season. Pete set such lofty expectations. It’s hard. And it’s a lot harder now for Hars than it was for me, in a sense. If they continue down this path and win the Mountain West, that’ll be huge. And then they have a chance to go bowling and have a great year.”
A few other notes from Hawkins:
— I asked him about the animosity of some fans toward Petersen, which seems different than what happened when Hawkins and Dirk Koetter (Arizona State) left: “You understand it. You understand the nature of sports. One of the things that makes college football great is people are so very passionate. If you’re winning and you’re a coach, they love you. If you’re a coach and you’re losing, you’re the worst. And if you’re a good coach and you leave, you’re even more worse. It’s just how it is. I don’t think you can put a whole lot of stock in it. The sad thing is every guy has got to be able to do what’s best for his family and for himself. And I think people sometimes don’t look at that. Pete had a whole life before he came to Boise State and he will have a whole life after Boise State. When he was here, he did unbelievable stuff and did it right by the laws of man, God, country and school. I think the right people really appreciate that and those that don’t, how can you help that? It is what is. If Johnny Anonymous wants to throw something out there, have at it.”
— On Petersen’s first year at Washington: “It’s hard, man. It’s hard. The most valuable thing I think that I had and he had and Harsin has because he was part of this whole thing is people drinking the Kool-Aid and really understanding your culture and living by your culture and breathing your culture. That, in any organization, is so important and when you go someplace and try to establish your type of culture it’s hard because the reality is you have guys who don’t buy into it, who don’t believe in it, and it takes a while. It takes a while to make it happen. It’s not easy. It’s very, very tough. Now, I give him credit. He’s had to make some very tough decisions on some players — some players that were good players that might cost you some wins. But I think it’s awesome he’s doing what he’s doing. He’s doing things right. If you’re going to go down, go down with the your right philosophy and with your right players. Don’t subordinate to pressure. I feel for him. Nobody knows what it’s like till you’ve gone and done that. It’s a hard road. And he’s just got to stay with his vision and keep bringing it every day.”
— Hawkins generally does one Friday game a week. This is his first time working with Dave Lamont and the crew that will be in Boise.
— On working in Boise: “I always joked that I don’t have any home games. This is my first home game.”
— His daughter, Brittany, lives in Boise. She has three children. Hawkins also has two grandchildren who live in Beaverton, Ore.
— On whether he wants to coach again: “It’s an interesting profession. I don’t know. I’ll see if there’s somebody that believes I can be a head coach. To some degree, once you are a head coach people don’t see you as a coordinator or a position coach. This has been fun. I also do this Sirius radio deal. So it’s fun. They’re great. Those guys are all football fans, too. That kind of keeps you in it. It’s not nearly as stressful as coaching, so we’ll see.”
— In addition to TV and radio, Hawkins has worked Nike camps, coached in Australia with his son Cody and done some consulting and speaking engagements. He will coach the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team at the world championships next summer in Sweden. The U.S. won gold in its two previous appearances, in 2007 and 2011.
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