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Independence Bowl Media Day Recap

Dec 17, 2007

BOULDER - University of Colorado head football coach Dan Hawkins addressed the media Tuesday during Colorado's Independence Bowl Media Day press conference. The following are quotes from the session:


Colorado Head Coach Dan Hawkins


ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS SEASON AND LAST-"You would have to ask the players about that specifically. I think I've certainly felt better, but I don't think in my own mind that I've been radically different. I know I'm always going -How can we get better- How can we fix practice- How can we improve facilities- How can we recruit- How can we get better-' And that's always been a little bit of my manta. Clearly, as my wife will tell you when you have an opportunity to go into a bowl game you walk around at home and she is talking to you and after five minutes you're going -Huh-' Because you haven't heard a word she said. So it's definitely been better that way.


"There were many things about last year that were painful. I always say there is a reason for it, and you always wonder -God, why me- Why now- How can I embrace this meaning-' But when you are sitting there watching ESPN in the bowl weeks and you are seeing 275 teams playing in a bowl game and you're not one of them you're going -Boy, they just put up every mascot in America but I didn't see Ralphie.' From that standpoint it's great. It's great to practice, improve and do all of those things during this time."


ON HIS PHILOSOPHY ON ADVISING PLAYERS ABOUT LEAVING EARLY FOR THE NFL DRAFT-"We've had a few guys. My thing with that is I think that we're here to develop them in their lives in every sense of the fashion and if that's an opportunity for them and they can realistically attain that I think it's great, it's awesome. We want NFL players here and you need NFL players to compete at the level we want to. That being said, whether you are a senior going out or a junior going out, I still think I try to be very realistic with them about -What are the long-term benefits/rewards, the long-term effects of that-' And even though a guy might have an opportunity to play, what is the realistic opportunity that he is going to make a living just doing that- So we just try to look at the long-range projection as well. A great example is our staff. I think we have seven or eight guys that played professional football and you still have to go get a job. So that education is really, really important. It kind of goes along with our whole balance of life thing. Clearly with a junior going out, the stats will tell you by and large most of that is not good-it's not a good thing. There are some guys if there are going to be a first round pick or second round pick or particularly a first day guy, and you're able to make a decent signing bonus, then it's probably a good thing. If you're a guy that's a sixth or seventh round pick and you're going to make league minimum if you make the team; if you're going to get a $20,000 signing bonus...and that's part of the thing I tell them too. Typically when you get into those situations like anything else, you're an optimist and you think -OK, I've got an opportunity to get drafted, and make all this money.' And I go -OK, that's great, but what happens if you get picked in the seventh round- Then how are you feeling-' A lot of times they don't think about that. They think about getting picked in the second round. So like the same thing when I came and Mason [Crosby] was here, people always said -Hey, what did you say to make him stay [for his senior year]-' And I didn't say anything. What I tried to do was just give him as much information as I could and let him make the decision based off what's best for him. I do know because I know guys that are on the NFL Advisory Committee, and I think one of the fallacies sometimes is that they will tell a guy -Well, you're a third round pick.' Well they might tell a guy -You're a third round pick,' but they've told 65 guys they are a third round pick. Now I'm not a big math wizard but if you add up the NFL teams in the first, second and third round, and you're telling 65 guys in the first and 65 guys in the second and 65 guys in the third, does that exactly add up- No, it doesn't. So I think that they need to understand if they say you are a third round pick that doesn't mean you are one of the top 90 players. They might be telling you that you are one of the top 180 players. Maybe. So there is some variability there. Clearly we want them to make the choice that's' best for them based off of their opportunities and based of what their goals and aspirations are. We do everything we can to facilitate that. My approach isn't that different with a junior than it is with a senior but you still have to look at the long-term situation.


ON PLAYING A TEAM WITH A REPUTATION LIKE ALABAMA-"I think it's certainly an attention grabber in that way, no question about that. I think we all know and understand the history of Alabama and have a tremendous amount of respect for the SEC. I think any time you get into a bowl game you always want to play the best possible team that you can play. Even though their record is just like us, not where they want it to be, they are a very formidable team. I think that definitely grabs your attention."   


ON BOWL PREPARATION-"The thing that's' happened up to this point is you try not to be too aggressive with what you're doing in terms of your preparation. So, I told them -When you come back on Thursday, the light has got to be on.' What you try to do in those first initial practices is work on your fundamentals and keep guys sharp and try not to get guys hurt. But you're not trying to get into the grind of game planning. Clearly there is a little bit of a buzz because they are excited to be back playing in a bowl. It's interesting because I think the older guys understand and appreciate what that's all about. The younger guys are just starting to figure that out. But I think you will see more of that when we get into actual bowl prep."


ON KEEPING THE TEAM SHARP DURING A LONG LAYOFF-"I think everybody has go their own formula and their own style of how they do things. I really feel good about what we've done. We've used it in the past; it keeps guys fresh but it doesn't burn them out. You still have an opportunity to play some football. Typically in a given week you are going to practice really hard on three days and play a game. So what we've been doing is we've been practicing three days on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and take one of those days and go pretty hard."


ON DEVELOPING YOUNGER PLAYERS-"I think I've seen a lot of younger guys really start emerging a little bit and getting a little bit of comfort. It's tough because no matter how you slice it and dice it-and I was there-when you are a redshirt guy or a scout team guy it's hard. It's hard because you do get into a little bit of a funk at times, but when you actually get to go out and get coached by your coach and do your things and do your schemes there is an energy that is built back up there. They get eight or nine practices to really work with everyone else before you get into the bowl prep. It's kind of a mini spring ball so to speak."


ON WHETHER ALABAMA'S WIN OVER TENNESSEE WAS THEIR MOST SIGNIFICANT WIN-"I don't know. I mean, clearly Tennessee finished up strong and had a great year and did a nice job. But you would have to ask them (Alabama). All coaches are very similar; I'm sure to them it's like 'OK, we won one of those game, but what about the other games-' I'm sure they feel the same way very much like we do."


ON WHY ALABAMA'S MASCOT IS AN ELEPHANT-"I don't know. Hey, if bear Bryant wants an elephant it's an elephant. That's all I know. It can be whatever he wants it to be."


ON THE RECIPE FOR SUCCESS IN A BOWL GAME-"I think there is a conditioning component to it, a health component to it; being able to execute in all phases of the game and being solid in your fundamentals so you can get out and get going fast. It's kind of a microcosm of what you do the rest of the year. I think it comes down to saying -Can you be sharp and take care of a lot of issues in a variety of areas-' And it just all comes down to the one game versus a 12-game season.


"Your No. 1 focus is always to win the football game. Just like with the rest of the year, you are always trying to create roles for guys and figure out how we can get guys in a niche to help us win the football game. You're not going to play guys just to play guys and see how they do. You know what they can do and you know that from practice. So if we feel like a guy is busting his tail and he works hard and can do something well consistently then we are going to try to find a spot where we can get him in just like we would the rest of the year."


ON HAVING THE NEW BUBBLE TO PRACTICE IN-"It's awesome to run down the hill in your shorts and T-shirt and get into the bubble and go -Yes!' The other side of it is you go -What would you do if you didn't have the bubble-' I'm like -I don't know, we would try to play them in basketball. I guess we would call them up and see if we could have a basketball game.' I don't know. Because clearly in the field house you can't practice in there and in years past-the weather in generally good here, but it's cold and they would clear off the field as best as they could and try to get done what they could get done. Bu there is no question that's been a huge help to us because when you can get in there and actually get some good, quality work done...and when you guys don't have to stand out in the cold that's a benefit. When you get one of the basketball beat writers to come because you are indoors then you know you are on the right path."


ON THE SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE -"I definitely think that it is going around the country and playing different teams and different styles-I have always thought that the SEC is a little bigger, a little faster and more physical in every range-in general. Not taking anything away from the Big 10 or the Pac-10 or the Big 12 by any means. I just think that top to bottom, no matter who you're playing there is a physicality to the whole thing. I think you're starting to see with Steve Spurrier out at South Carolina he's starting to spread it out and teams are starting to do those types of things as well, but overall it's just the physicality of things."


ON ALABAMA'S OFFENSE-"I think they have been like us, to some degree, offensively. At times they have been very efficient and sometimes they've been of-kilter a little bit, but clearly they have weapons and have tons of skill."


ON ALABAMA WR D.J. Hall-"The guy can really run-run after the catch, good smooth route runner and he has speed. It's kind of like the difference between zero and -30; once it's cold it's cold-it's the same way, once you're good you're good, and he's really good."


ON WANTING TO SEND THE SENIORS OUT WITH A WIN-"I think that is a little bit more emphasized, to some degree, on Senior Day. Our emphasis is just to send the whole team out with a victory at the end. Clearly there is some sentiment there for the seniors and you want to get that done. The prevailing thing on Senior Day is that there is a little bit more of that emotion, and again nobody wants to spend the off-season thinking about a loss. You'd rather wake up the next morning with seven months to live off your last victory."


ON GETTING MORE CREATIVE OFFENSIVELY DURING BOWLS-"I think you see a lot of that. We're like you guys, we get a little more time, we starting writing some more things and saying -What about this idea-' and -What about this concept-' Sometimes I think we're a little too spread out, and coaches get the same way-there is a lot of time. Typically, when you start game planning, in a normal week you are looking at a little stuff Sunday, you're looking at a lot of stuff on Monday and then you're pretty much throwing it down and going. Now you have a lot of days to go -What about this- What about that-' So now you have to make it manageable. I think that is part of what makes the bowls fun, to some degree. I know [running backs coach] Darien [Hagan] was telling me when he played here they changed their whole offense, they revamped their whole offense before the bowl. You generally see a lot of creativity when you have this much time off."


ON HAVING QB CODY HAWKINS RUN THE OPTION-"That would not be in the game plan, definitely not."


ON WHETHER THERE IS TOO MUCH TIME BEFORE THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME-"I really hope that at some point we get to discover whether or not it is too much time or not. I'm hoping we can actually have that problem where we're going -Boy, that was just too much time.' I don't know, I guess you'd have to talk to them, that clearly is a lot of time but depending on how you spend it-I'm sure they spent a lot of time working on fundamentals, scrimmaging pretty hard in there a couple times, recreating some game time situations; but that is a problem that every one of us wants to have but only two get to have that problem every year."


ON BALANCING WORK AND PLAY AT THE BOWL-"What we have always tried to do, no matter where we go, is to have that fine balance between having some fun but understanding the purpose of the game. The purpose of the game is for you to go down there and compete as well as you can compete and hopefully you can win the game. No matter where you go, I'm kind of into that (having fun)-both for the staff and for the families, but also we're here to win a football game. Again, hopefully we'll have the opportunities to go to some of those bowls and have some of those things to worry about. The main focus is the bowl game and being competitive in that game."


ON BCS SNUBS-"It's one of those things that you can always sit back and throw jabs. To me, I think Missouri needs to be in there somewhere. I mean you have to be kidding me, those guys lose twice to Oklahoma in reasonably close games, and that isn't taking anything away from any of those other teams but I think they should be in there. I think you can make that case every year, and I know that I'm close to it this year because they're in the Big 12 and we played them and have a feeling of what they're about but I'm sure there are some other teams that think they should be in there and deserve to be in there, and I'm sure they do. But in my mind, I'm sure there are some other teams, but I think Missouri should factor in there some where."


ON WHETHER MISSOURI DESERVES TO HAVE KANSAS'S SPOT-"You can make a case for that, I mean they did beat them. They [Kansas] didn't have as many losses as Missouri, but that is why we always talk about the pros and cons of the Big 12 Championship game. The conference is always trying to get a team into the National Championship, but it's unfortunate when you have a team that is No.1 going into the Big 12 Championship game and they don't win and now they're not in the Championship game. That is just unfortunate for Missouri because now they're not even in a BCS game; but Kansas is a good football team as well."