UC Davis' Hawkins wins Eddie Robinson Award
By CRAIG HALEY
(STATS) - A collective effort is imperative for any team to have the rise that UC Davis has enjoyed over coach Dan Hawkins' first two seasons.
It's the overwhelming feeling Hawkins has toward his alma mater's program, so it's not surprising he was spreading around the praise Wednesday when he was announced as the 2018 STATS FCS Eddie Robinson Award winner. The 32-year-old award, named for the legendary Grambling State coach, honors the national coach of the year in college football's Division I subdivision.
Hawkins edged runner-up Brian Bohannon of Kennesaw State for the Robinson, whose 15 finalists included at least one coach from all 13 FCS conferences. He will be honored at the STATS FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation Jan. 4 in Frisco, Texas - on the eve of the national championship game.
Hawkins, a 1984 UC Davis graduate whose coaching career began as a student assistant, was hired in 2016 after the Aggies finished 3-8. After improving by two wins in his first season, they were picked ninth in this year's two Big Sky Conference preseason polls, but went 10-3 for their first winning season since 2010, earning a share of their first Big Sky conference title and FCS playoff berth. The national quarterfinalists never previously had a national FCS ranking yet rose to as high as No. 4 during the regular season.
"When I look back on this team, I will think about how selfless everyone was and thought about the team first," Hawkins said, "how we attacked each game and focused on becoming the best version of ourselves each day."
The classy Hawkins, 58, has led the programs at Colorado, Boise State and Willamette, and coached football in 13 different countries. His intellectual approach is ideally suited at UC Davis, whose football program has led the Big Sky in its NCAA academic standing for five straight years, but he's also reinvigorated the former Division II power. For two seasons, his Aggies have featured a high-powered offense, led by the last two Big Sky offensive players of the year, wide receiver Keelan Doss (2017) and quarterback Jake Maier (2018).
"When you have an administration and an institution that have a passion for something, and are willing to support it, financially and philosophically, and are all rowing in the same direction, magnificent things can happen," Hawkins said. "We have really talented players - it all starts there - a talented staff, but none of that happens, or comes together unless you have leadership that says, 'We can work together to create one of the best academic schools in the country, and we can have success in sports.' They are not mutually exclusive from one another."
A national panel of 153 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted on the Eddie Robinson Award following the regular season. Voters selected a Top 5 on their ballot.
The Eddie Robinson Award results:
1. Dan Hawkins, UC Davis: 24-23-19-17-14-317
2. Brian Bohannon, Kennesaw State: 30-17-14-16-12-304
3. Dan Hunt, Colgate: 16-12-20-18-18-242
4. Curt Mallory, Indiana State: 23-16-12-6-7-234
5. Chris Klieman, North Dakota State: 11-15-20-14-21-224
6. Joe Harasymiak, Maine: 18-16-12-9-12-220
7. Bob Surace, Princeton: 7-18-17-19-11-207
8. Eric Morris, Incarnate Word: 12-10-13-14-18-185
9. (Tie) Tom Matukewicz, Southeast Missouri: 2-7-9-12-9-98
9. (Tie) Randy Sanders, ETSU: 4-8-6-7-14-98
11. Sam Washington, North Carolina A&T: 3-3-5-3-3-51
12. Roger Hughes, Stetson: 1-4-3-5-4-44
13. Dale Lindsey, San Diego: 1-1-0-7-5-28
14. Fred McNair, Alcorn State: 0-2-2-4-2-24
15. Jerry Schmitt, Duquesne: 1-1-1-2-3-19
A first-place vote was worth five points, a second-place vote four points, a third-place vote three points, a fourth-place vote two points and a fifth-place vote one point.
Updated December 12, 2018