Brooks: Five Questions For 'Hawk'
BOULDER - Of the presents received in his lifetime, Dan Hawkins might never have imagined a nearly four-day hospital stay making the list.
But following his recent release from a Boulder hospital, where he underwent a surgical procedure for the removal of kidney stones then battled serious complications, Hawkins termed the entire episode "a gift."
A wake-up call on several fronts might be more apt, but regardless of the term, Hawkins emerged vowing to take better care of himself (he's become an advocate of drinking more water), to be thankful for being in generally good health and to generally be more thoughtful.
He told of being taken aback by getting a get-well card from a football office volunteer undergoing chemotherapy for cancer: "I've got a kidney stone, he's got cancer - and I don't send him anything? What am I thinking?"
Complicating Hawkins' recovery and extending his hospital stay was fluid in his lungs; the right lung filled, the left partially filled.
His condition never required him being taken to intensive care, but it obviously concerned his family.
"You grow up thinking your dad's Superman, then you see something like this and realize that he's as vulnerable as anybody else," son Cody said.
Hawkins' older and younger brothers experienced kidney stones and had told him about the pain. Hawkins said he listened, but then maybe not.
"I think about how callous I might have been, maybe removed for whatever reason," he said. "And maybe not just in that category, but any category about a loss or pain in their lives.
"You're not really present enough to take that in. That's one of the things I thought about (in the hospital). And there was a lot more.''
Hawkins returned to his office last week and will participate in the Big 12 Conference's preseason media days this week in Irving, Texas (see schedule below). Five questions Hawkins can count on coming his way:
1. Can you explain your statement at last winter's senior banquet concerning "10 wins and no excuses" in 2009?
Hawkins: "It's about excellence, about having a standard and an expectation. People have said 10-2 . . . well, if we're 10-2, we're in a bowl game, so why would I limit it (to 10 wins)? Obviously, that's not an accurate statement.
"Having a bar to shoot at is important, particularly in our organization. Don't get me wrong, getting better is a part of it. But another couple of things here or there and we're GÇÿthis far' from having another two wins and GÇÿthat far' from having a 10-win season.
"So let's keep the bar high and the expectation of excellence up there. Let's shoot for that . . . we could go nine wins or eight wins or 11 wins - I don't think you want to cap yourself there. Any coach or leader who doesn't set the bar (high), you're shortchanging your whole organization.
"I came back from the (Big 12) spring meetings and coach (Bob) Foster said, GÇÿHey, the old head coach didn't cut us any slack . . . 10 wins, Big 12 championship, national championship.'
"I said, GÇÿCoach, do you want to play for the guy who says, Aw, we just want to go out there and be respectable?' Is that the coach you want to play for? Not me.
"I'm not doing it in a false way; I really think we have a chance to be better. If we stay injury free, if we get a little momentum and things start happening, I think we can have a pretty special year.
"When I say 10 wins, if I were a basketball coach I'd be saying 20 wins . . . it's sort of the benchmark of excellence. But it's not the amount of wins, it's the bar of excellence. Being able to put together some things on our team and that whole talent, leadership, experience model and saying, guys, we have a chance here; let's not back away, close our eyes and feel our way through.
"Let's be steely-eyed, know where we're going and have an expectation and a zeal to get there."
2. What do you like about the 2009 team?
Hawkins: "From top to bottom, they really get it. They're starting to figure the whole thing out. What does going to every class have to do with winning football games? Well, that's details, discipline, attention, focus. That's prioritizing . . . all that stuff.
"I listened to Kobe Bryant after the Lakers won the NBA championship. He said until your team gets all that stuff, it's hard - and that's the thing I liked the most.
"Through and through, I think they (the Buffs) believe it; they don't question whether it's right or wrong . . . they've been through enough battles on and off field to know we love them, care about them and can coach.
"Jeff Pitman (strength and conditioning coach) says this has been the best summer we've had by far. I got an email from Kris Livingston (director of academics) who spoke very highly of the incoming freshmen.
"Now, there's enough of a culture and leadership from top to bottom, and they're (players) regulating that, controlling that."
3. You're taking on coaching a position (receivers) . . . does that stem from necessity or a desire to return to that role?
Hawkins: "It's a combination - I'm always in evaluation mode, looking. I was the tight ends coach in my first year at Boise and heavily involved in the offense.
"There's days where you wake up and go, GÇÿI`ve been coaching for 27 years and I don't coach anymore.' I`m excited to coach, I`m excited to have a group of guys, run those meetings, grade that film and be out at practice and motivate and inspire.
"I want to do a better job as a leader, and part of that job is leading by example. But it's like all the cards worked exactly right (for this move), and that's why it's all so sweet.
"I think Ashley (Ambrose) is going to be a great coach - a great guy and the kids respect him and he'll bring a lot to our staff."
(Note: Ambrose moves from assisting secondary coach Greg Brown as a defensive technical intern to helping Hawkins as an offensive technical intern; he'll be promoted to receivers coach in 2010. CU will have two offensive technical interns this season - Brad Bedell will help Denver Johnson with the O-line - and no defensive technical interns.)
4. Will it detract from your administrative role?
Hawkins: "Yes and no. It'll probably keep me from nitpicking at some other stuff - and that`s probably not a bad break for some of these guys. I mean, I trust our guys; it's not like I need to (micromanage).
"What it's really going to cut back on is . . . post-practice media. It'll be shorter; I've got to get up here (office) and watch the tape. There'll be less speaking engagement stuff during the season, some of the extraneous stuff.
"I enjoy going to guys' (position) meetings and sitting in on them . . . and watching guys coach, giving them some pointers and looking at the overall big picture.
"But now I'm coaching the receivers. It'll be great for me to get my feet back on the ground, great to transition Ashley and it's great having Foster here (as outside linebackers coach)."
5. You go into August camp with a quarterback duel that many believe already has been decided, with the winner being your son. Is the competition really unsettled and can you ever satisfy those who believe the edge always will go to Cody?
Hawkins: "I have not had a quarterback yet that didn't have a sophomore slump. I'm 100 percent. I don't know, I need to do a better job of getting out of that.
"But (Cody) can step in line with a lot of great quarterbacks that their second year at the helm didn't go so good - or maybe I should say what fans or he expected.
"But he brings a heck of a work ethic, he brings a heck of a lot of credibility. He can stand out there on any given Saturday and run our offense without anybody saying a word.
"And he is extremely accurate. It's interesting; I was down in (Texas) for Big 12 media days a couple of years ago and was watching the Cowboys practice and talking to Gil Brandt.
"He said the Cowboys always came down to one attribute at every position that would be the tie breaker, the ultimate. That's what he said about quarterback - accuracy, you've got to be accurate, an accurate thrower.
"Does (Cody) have a hose? No. He's got a pretty strong enough arm. It's funny; when you think about having a hose, how many guys really do have a hose?
"I've been thinking, in our league, where we have a lot of great quarterbacks, I'm going, how many of those guys have a hose?
"I think Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, 2008 Heisman Trophy winner) can sling it pretty good. But Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Chase Daniel (Missouri), those are great players but I wouldn't classify them as having a hose. They can get the ball where it's supposed to go.
"It's interesting . . . the height thing. Cody is listed at exactly what his height is (5-foot-11). There's no cheating involved in there at all. It's like any other quarterback; I've had kids who were 6-5 and could run a 4.6 (40-yard dash) and I wished they were more dedicated and I wish they could think more (in game situations).
"(But) it'll never be a foregone conclusion that Cody will be the starter . . . and it'll be the same way at every position. I hate that.
"(Tyler) Hansen is a good player, too - a baller. Trust me, he's a coach's kid, too - tough and smart . . . The interesting thing - we timed them both and Cody beat him actually (in a 40-yard dash). Just slightly, but they were both right there, there was no big edge.
"But Tyler has more running savvy; he just can see things and feel things that Cody can't. And he does have a stronger arm than Cody. So we'll see.
"I've never been a big fan of a two quarterback system, but maybe that's the way it plays out. Maybe that's what we're supposed to do. Maybe they both give us something. Maybe one guy's hot and the other guy's not. I don't know.
"I think to their credit, they've both handled it really well. Again, as long as they continue to have a positive attitude about it, then I think it's going to be OK."
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