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July 25, 2007

Big 12 Notebook: Reinventing The Hawk

SAN ANTONIO It is indeed the Big 12, brother.

Dan Hawkins is learning that the hard way.

In his last coaching stop at Boise State, Hawkins had an impressive run of success including a 53-11 record.

Now, Hawkins is enduring an uncommon feeling at Colorado losing. The once-mighty Big 12 program went 2-10 last year, including a loss to Division I-AA Montana State.

The losses clearly ate at Hawkins. After a 34-31 triple overtime loss to Baylor in Boulder, Hawkins stayed in his office and watched the game tape.

Meanwhile, Boise State is winning without him, but Hawkins has no regrets leaving the Broncos for the Buffaloes.

"There's two sides to it, it was extremely painful, extremely," Hawkins said. "That being said, it was a good pain. I'm one of those quirky guys where I'm about reinventing yourself. I think there's magic in that. I think it's important as a person that you test yourself and you put yourself in the fire."

Hawkins has certainly established himself as "quirky."

The biggest headline out of Colorado during the offseason was a sound bite of Hawkins in an animated discussion of players' parents concerns over a lack of time off.

The sound bite began with Hawkins (loudly) proclaiming, "It's Division I football! It's the Big 12!" and ending with "go play intramurals, brother. Go play intramurals."

The clip was labeled as a rant or a tirade, and he has been the butt of some jokes, but the Colorado coach doesn't mind. His players and people around him know that's just The Hawk.

"I'm an animated guy, I'm a passionate guy," Hawkins said. "I wasn't ranting. I went 2-10 last year. If I'm a ranter, it would have happened during the 10 part."

Vick, Pacman hit home for Prince: Run-ins with the law for NFL stars Mike Vick and Pacman Jones have been a hot topic at Big 12 Media Days, with coaches and players weighing in on national headlines.

The federal indictment for Vick and the suspension for Jones have hit home for Kansas State coach Ron Prince. While at James Madison, Prince got to know Mike Vick while recruiting a teammate. As a Virginia assistant, he later recruited Vick's brother Marcus and briefly recruited Adam "Pacman" Jones.

"It's not the story I would have pictured for this (Vick's) family," Prince said. "In the case of a Pacman Jones, clearly the environment is getting the best of him. I don't know whose fault it is or what fault it is."

Several players and coaches spoke about a trickle-down effect on the college game.

"What you really want to do is step back from any of these individual charges or things that have come out there and take a look at your overall preparation of how to be a professional," Prince said. "The scrutiny of this will cause a lot of people to think twice about what associations they have."

The Power of One: Kansas State's theme for the season (and cover of its media guide) is "The Power of One." It also happens to be quarterback Josh Freeman's jersey number.

Freeman led the Wildcats to a bowl berth and an upset of Texas as a true freshman last year, but he insists the team motto and his jersey are nothing but a coincidence.

"I don't see it like that," Freeman said. "The power of one is team united and individual power. The theme is everybody helps everybody and improves as a team."

No. 1 will look to that philosophy in his second year as a starter. Once Freeman claimed the starting job, he led the Wildcats to wins over Oklahoma State and Texas but struggled mightily in the final two games, losses to Kansas and Rutgers. He finished the season with 15 interceptions to six touchdown passes.

Now that he's settled as a starter, Freeman went into the offseason with more confidence and has high hopes.

"I expect to get quite a bit better than last year," Freeman said. "There were a lot more questions last year as far as what to do and where to be. This year I feel like I've really fit in well with the guys, even the older guys. They all respect me as one of the leaders."

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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