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Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2006

Buffs’ boss still upbeat

Despite losses, Hawkins remains ‘enthusiastic’

September 23, 2006

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— Dan Hawkins' infectious personality was one of the things that excited Mike Bohn when he was looking for a coach to replace Gary Barnett at the University of Colorado.

That zeal is coming in quite handy with the bumbling Buffs off to an 0-3 start heading into today's game at ninth-ranked Georgia.

Junior cornerback Terrence Wheatley said Hawkins' upbeat attitude is keeping the Buffs from drowning in their doldrums.

"It's crazy. I've never had a coach that has been so enthusiastic, I think he sleeps here some nights. I know he did during the spring and I think he does now," Wheatley said. "He's an infectious guy. He goes 100 percent all the time. In meetings he's always coaching. On the field I think he probably runs as much as we do."

Hawkins will sprint from one drill to another, throwing for a few minutes to his wide receivers and then throwing balls at his defensive backs.

"He looks like a little kid, like a little kid that never played football before," Wheatley said. "He's out there just going nuts. I'm like, 'That's different.' But it definitely keeps the team's spirit up just to know your head coach can have fun with you and still teach you at the same time."

From the time he got the job on Jan. 1 to polish a program soiled by scandal and embarrassing losses until now, as he tries to salvage a season that's slipping away barely three weeks into September, Hawkins' passion hasn't waned.

The early struggles make him even more certain that this was the right job for him, the right rung on the coaching ladder after his stellar run at Boise State.

"And I know you think all this stuff is (inspirational speaker) Zig Ziglar kinds of stuff, but you know, you're defined by these moments, you are," Hawkins said. "And it's really why I came here. It's why I came here, amid all this stuff that has gone on, all the turmoil, all the trauma, who is going to go, 'I want that?' Me! Why? You find out who you are. You find out what you're made of. You find out how good you are.

"You have to reinvent yourself. What better way to live? When it's all said and done, you say, I never took it for granted. I got up every day and I had to reinvent. And to me, that's living. That's why I'm here. So, it's not pain, it's not agony."

It's just another hard lesson in life.

The Buffs opened with a loss to Division I-AA Montana State, which turned around and lost to Division II Chadron State the following week. Colorado then lost the annual Rocky Mountain Showdown to Colorado State. Their loss to No. 20 Arizona State on Saturday led former coach Gary Barnett to tell the Associated Press, "It's hard for me to believe that the players that I can no longer coach are 0-3."

A loss today would give Colorado it's first seven-game losing skid in 26 years.

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