Whoever coined the phrase, “Hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports,” probably never coached his son.
Last week, during the Colorado University football team’s 38-14 loss at Texas, CU coach Dan Hawkins faced the unenviable task of yanking his son, Cody, from the field.
Cody, a junior quarterback, has mixed moments of potential with unsightly struggles since arriving at Colorado a year after his dad. The way things are going, the son might outlast the father in Boulder. The coach’s decision to recruit and play his son raises the questions: Is Cody really a Big 12-caliber QB? And: Was his father’s decision to give him that chance worth jeopardizing a coaching career?
Dan Hawkins has stood beside the Buffs’ QB — as coach and father — and remains supportive of him as the team prepares to face No. 17 Kansas on Saturday with sophomore Tyler Hansen as the starter.
“I’m probably a little bit different than a lot of parents,” Hawkins said. “I was just raised (to believe) that life is not always fair. Not everybody gets to start, and not everybody gets to play. There have to be back-up players, and there have to be role players. Every organization knows that and every team knows that.”
Fortunately for Hawkins, he need not worry about Cody causing problems.
“He gets it,” the coach said.
So, too, does Free State High head football coach Bob Lisher. During his time at Free State, Lisher has coached two sons, one of whom, Michael, is a senior and three-year starter.
For Lisher, who has coached in multiple state championship games, won a few as an assistant and been named 6A Coach of the Year, coaching his sons has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences of his life.
“I enjoy the heck out of it because I get to spend more time with my son,” Lisher said. “I wish I could’ve coached my daughter (Jayme) because I’ve really enjoyed coaching Brett and Michael in this football program. It’s been great.”
But that’s not to say Lisher can’t sympathize with Hawkins.
In 2004, Lisher’s older son, Brett, entered the year as the Firebirds’ starting running back. Midway through the season, Lisher determined sophomore Brian Murphy was the better fit. Without hesitating, he moved Brett to wide receiver, where he went on to become an all-league performer. Lisher said he never lost sleep worrying about Brett’s feelings.
“You’ve got to put people on the field that the kids trust,” Lisher said. “You just can’t put somebody out there because you’re related to them.”
Hawkins doesn’t have the same luxury that Lisher did in 2004. At the Div. I level, a quarterback doesn’t have many more places to go once he has been benched. Rare is the player like KU’s Kerry Meier who can be moved from quarterback to another position and find such tremendous success.
Hawkins insists that Cody understands that. How could he not? Throughout the last 15 or so years of his life, Cody has been around all aspects of football, from game-winning Gatorade baths and trick plays to hard losses.
He has seen his father make some tough decisions, too. This time, he just happens to be at the center of a complicated one.