Hawk Moment II: Later in the meeting he says, "There's only one national
champion each year. If we want to get there, we've got to think a little
differently. We've got to be a little.... abnormal."
By the end of
spring ball the Buffs will know from abnormal. They will have participated in
sumo drills, in which players strap on blocking pads and try to knock each
other out of a ring. They will have competed to determine who could slide the
farthest on his belly in the snow. Linemen will have fielded punts. And Hawkins
will have brought golf clubs onto the field for a closest-to-the-pin
competition--the "pin" being equipment manager J.T. Galloway, standing
very still 55 yards upfield.
At 7 a.m. the day
after that team meeting Hawkins and four assistants board a private jet bound
for New Orleans. ("If you want to feel like Shaq," he tells another
passenger, "try standing up in the restroom.") They are going to apply
a full-court press on Chris Mitchell, a much-coveted wide receiver at John
Ehret High. Barnett left behind a solid defense, but if Hawkins is going to
stretch the field on offense, as was his wont in Boise, he needs a burner at
The earliness of
the hour brings to mind something Hawkins had told the team the night before:
He isn't big on "dawn patrol"--on requiring players to report for
conditioning at 6 a.m. Why not? he is asked on the plane. "Studies have
shown that the main deterrent to top performance isn't poor diet or
stress," he says. "It's lack of sleep."
In this, and
other ways, he is a player's coach who lobs around words like
"ownership" and "accountability." In the world according to
Hawk, "so much of life is flow. The more you give power up, the more you
get it back." Then he adds a proviso: "I respect you enough to give you
all the rope you need, but there is an end to my rope. I'm totally willing to
share my power. I'm not willing to give it up [completely]."
He has already
asked each player, "What's the best thing you guys have done here? What do
you want to keep?" He wants them to know he respects their opinions and
accomplishments. This is a team that for all its issues has won the Big 12
North three of the last four seasons. Hawkins and his staff are not starting
They are greeted
in New Orleans by driving rain and a yellow-slickered baggage handler who,
seeing that they are coaches from Colorado, asks, "Who y'all here to
see?" After they tell him, the baggage handler laughs, then says,
" Chris Mitchell? The whole SEC's been here to see him. Florida's been here
three times. Nebraska's been here. Miami's been here. But, hey, good
Hawkins spent all
afternoon with Mitchell, but in the end he decided to stay in his home state
and play for LSU. In the weeks leading up to national signing day, on Feb. 1,
Colorado's recruiting class would be rated as low as 90th by one recruiting
service. But Hawkins and his staff would scramble nicely, reeling in a
middle-of-the-pack class of 22. Allen Wallace, the national recruiting editor
for Scout.com, says, "I would anticipate dramatic improvement [next
season]. I think they'll put together one of the elite classes in the Big 12. A
huge cloud has been lifted."
scrimmage of spring practice, on March 23, is by turns slovenly and
spectacular. Tight end Tyson DeVree catches a long pass, only to be blown up by
the free safety. DeVree is still bent over on the sideline when Hawkins offers
a high five. "I think I'm going to throw up," DeVree gasps.
cool," says the Hawk. "Puke and rally!"