Quintin Mikell still remembers one of Dan Hawkins’ more famous rallying cries: Leave No Doubt. In 2001, when Mikell was a junior at Boise State, the Broncos finished tied for second in the Western Athletic Conference with Fresno State.
And although Boise State had beaten the Bulldogs during the season, Fresno State went to a bowl game while Boise State stayed home. Hence, the slogan. Which Mikell, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, said was the catalyst for Boise State’s remarkable 12-1 season in 2002. “He put that into our minds that we can beat anybody and we can win games no matter what,” Mikell said. “He got us to play for him. He got us to believe.” A master motivator whose teams consistently exceed expectations: That is how Mikell, and others, described the 45-year-old Boise State coach who, according to several published reports, will be announced as Colorado’s 23rd head football coach, perhaps today. Hawkins told the Associated Press on Thursday that “officially, nothing’s been decided,” but that he would become the Buffaloes coach “if certain things happen.” That, ostensibly, is Colorado’s Board of Regents approving his contract. The Board has scheduled a special meeting for today. “What it gets down to is challenge and opportunity, versus continuing to do what you’ve been doing,” Hawkins told the AP. “I’m going to prove myself again.” That kind of talk is familiar to those who’ve played for Hawkins. Hawkins was Boise State’s special teams coach when Bryan Johnson, a fullback for the Chicago Bears, played at the school. Johnson said he remembered Hawkins’ “rah-rah” spirit and “motivational oneliners,” and said the players at Colorado “will be motivated probably like they’ve never been before.” “That’s the genius in coaching,” said San Jose State coach Dick Tomey, who said no coach in the country has done a better job than Hawkins the past five years. “It’s not offensive genius or defensive genius, it’s getting the guys to play and play at a high level every week.” Hawkins’ teams have done just that. In five years at Boise State, he is 53-10 and has led the Broncos to at least a share of the past four WAC championships. Under Hawkins, Boise State’s high-powered offense has become as renowned as the school’s “Smurf Turf,” the blue turf field on which the Broncos play. This season, Boise State is ranked 23rd in the nation in total offense with 430.3 yards per game (215.7 rushing, 214.6 passing) and eighth in the nation in scoring offense (37.3 points per game). Hawkins also has been lauded for building strong relations with the Boise community and helping roust support that paid for a state-of-the-art indoor practice facility. “Look at Boise State the last couple years and the stuff he’s been able to accomplish with so little,” Mikell said. “He’s great at getting people to help and donate.” Before coming to Boise State, where he was an assistant before he took over as head coach for Dirk Koetter after the 2000 season, Hawkins guided Willamette University of Salem, Ore., from 1993 to ’97. Hawkins compiled a 40-11-1 record there and led the Bearcats to a runner-up finish in the 1997 NAIA National Championship. As a college coach, Hawkins has won 93 of 115 games. But according to Tomey, his most impressive performance came in one of his losses — last season’s Liberty Bowl, in which the Broncos fell to a high-powered Louisville team ranked No. 8 in the country, 44-40. “The talent discrepancy was enormous, but (Boise State) competed on an equal basis,” Tomey said. “He makes better players out of people. I think if he gets a chance to get talent that’s equal to the Big 12 level, he will do a sensational job.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0365 or firstname.lastname@example.org