Big Sky Conference

UC Davis hires Dan Hawkins as head football coach


UC Davis has had just four head football coaches over the last 46 years. Ron Gould is the first man to lead the Aggies that is not an alumnus.

Just two days after winning the Causeway Classic by defeating rival Sacramento State, Gould was fired as UC Davis’ head coach. The Aggies elected to stay within the family for his replacement.

Dan Hawkins, the man who helped build the foundation for Boise State’s rise to national success, is the new head coach at his alma mater as first reported by ESPN. Hawkins played fullback at Davis in 1981 and 1982 for UCD legend Jim Sochor. Hawkins won three straight Northwest Conference titles (1995-97) at Willamette and led Boise State to four straight Western Athletic Conference championships (2002-2005) before taking the Colorado job in 2006. At CU, he posted a 19-39 mark before being fired during the 2010 season. Hawkins, who is currently the offensive coordinator for Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna in Austria, had accepted the offensive coordinator job for Butch Davis at Florida International before accepting the Davis head position.

Dan Hawkins/ courtesy of CU athletics

Dan Hawkins/ courtesy of CU athletics

During his storied career at UC Davis, Sochor build the Aggies into one of the most dominant Division II programs in the country while also mentoring many men who went on to huge coaching success. Between 1970 and 1988, Sochor led Davis to 18 straight Northern California Athletic Conference championships, the longest streak ever by any program other than Division III Mount Union. Sochor posted a 156-41-5 record (.785), including 92-5 against conference competition. He put together winning streaks of 41 and 38 consecutive games. His teams advanced to the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs seven times, to the semis three times and lost in the D-II national championship game in 1982, Hawkins’ senior year.

Sochar mentored future NFL quarterbacks Mike Moroski and Ken O’Brien. Future successful coaches Hawkins, Paul Hackett, Mike Belotti, Chris Petersen and Bob Biggs all played for Sochor. Bob Foster, a Sochor assistant for the duration of his tenure, himself compiled a 30-1-1 record between 1989 and 1992 before retiring. He would come out of retirement to coach for Hawkins at Willamette, who posted a 40-11 record between 1993 and 1997 before taking the Boise State job.

Foster gave way to Biggs, who won 144 games and reached the Division II semifinals four out of six years between 1996 and 2001. Biggs led Davis into the Division I era in 2004 and into the Big Sky Conference in 2012. Biggs won three league games in 2012 before retiring after 20 years at the helm.

Former UC Davis head coach Ron Gould/ by Brooks Nuanez

Former UC Davis head coach Ron Gould/ by Brooks Nuanez

Gould, who mentored players like Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett and Shane Vereen as the running backs coach at Cal for 16 seasons, took over for Biggs and won five Big Sky games in 2013. The Aggies only won five games over the last three seasons and just seven games during that span. The win over Sac State pushed Davis to 3-8 overall, including 2-6 in league play but was not enough to save Gould’s job. He posted a 12-33 overall record at UC Davis.

After leading Willamette to the Division III national championship game in 1997, Hawkins joined Dirk Koetter’s staff at Boise State in the Broncos’ fifth season playing in the FBS after spending 15 years in the Big Sky. Koetter moved on to Arizona State after three seasons and Hawkins took over at Boise in 2000.

In five seasons at Boise, Hawkins compiled a 53-11 record, including winning 37 of 40 WAC games. The Broncos won 24 straight WAC games between 2002 and 2004, finishing in the top 15 of the polls each year. Chris Petersen, who played quarterback at Davis in 1985 and 1986, served as Hawkins’ offensive coordinator from 2001 until 2005 before taking over as the Broncos’ head coach. Petersen took BSU to new heights, winning the Fiesta Bowl to cap a perfect 13-0 season in 2006. Boise State finished No. 5 in the AP Poll that season. Petersen won the WAC four out of five times from 2006 until 2010 before Boise moved to the Mountain West.

Hawkins struggled to find similar success at Colorado. He won just 10 of 37 Big XII Conference games in five seasons and just 19 games overall. He led the Buffs to the Independence Bowl in 2007, the team’s only bowl appearance. In November of 2010, Colorado blew a 28-point fourth quarter lead to Kansas to lose 52-45, the biggest collapse in the 121-year history of the CU program.

While nursing the lead late, Hawkins continued to throw the ball intead of running out the clock. Many suspected Hawkins made the choice to help his son, Cody, the Buffs’ quarterback, break the school’s all-time passing record. Hawkins was fired in Boulder three days later.

Hawkins most recently served as the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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