Idaho State has its new head coach. It’s Cody Hawkins, a Boise native and son of former Boise State coach Dan Hawkins who most recently was UC Davis’ offensive coordinator. This newspaper reported Hawkins’ hire Friday afternoon, and about an hour later, he joined KTIK, a radio station in Boise.
Here is everything Hawkins said in that interview, which lasted about eight minutes.
Question: What made you
say yes to this job?
Hawkins: Well, it’s an unbelievable opportunity. I think you take head coaching jobs for a lot of reasons. But I think the Big Sky Conference is the SEC of the FCS. There are a lot of good football programs here, a lot of programs with history. The opportunity to go back home and be part of a program that’s won a national championship, has done great things. And man, talking to Pauline (Thiros), the athletic director there, she’s fantastic. I don’t know if there are any better in the business. And I don’t know how long she’ll be there. I hope she’s there as long as I’m there. (Laughs) But she’s fantastic and really has a great vision for where she wants to go with the football program. I probably have a very clear vision for the type of programs I want to be involved with. And I’ve been lucky to coach with my dad. The opportunity to do your own thing is always enticing, and looking forward to the opportunity at Idaho State.
Q: How did this deal
Hawkins: It did happen really fast. I was not looking to leave at all. Davis is one of the best places in the conference to live, and we got it rolling here. Just opened a huge new football facility that’s going to rake in recruits. We’re not in cruise control. I mean, we got to get better, but you’re just part of a really good situation, and the culture here is set. I have a couple of mentors in the athletic business who I’ve talked to just about career opportunities, and I tried to touch base with them at the end of the year stuff, and one of them knew Pauline. Pauline reached out to me last Thursday and asked me to interview the next day.
So it kind of happened fast. To be honest I think I was probably a throw-in because I was from Idaho and it helps to have other people in the candidate pool. I was able to interview with them late this week, and Pauline offered me the job last night. I was able to pray on it, sleep on it, and woke up this morning feeling good about being a Bengal, and here we are.
Q: Are you going to recruit Idaho?
Hawkins: Boy, I would love to. I don’t want to sit on the radio and tell you guys how hard I’m going to recruit the state of Idaho, because I think that’s a non-negotiable in taking the job. I sold it in the interview because it is important. I think there’s so much talent, both in the Treasure Valley and around the state right now. You look at the kids that are playing all over the country from Idaho, there’s talent there. And if you can get it to stay home, I think you’ve got an opportunity to be really good.
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I don’t want to break any rules by mentioning a guy on my team before that I recruited from Idaho, but he’s an absolute stud. There are athletes there, and I look forward to getting out there and really talking with my actions. I don’t want people to hear me or see my hashtag. I want them to see me in person. And I want them to feel me and build a relationship with me because I know what it’s like to grow up in the state and play good football in the state. Played my last high school football game in Holt Arena. I’ve also won and lost games in Holt Arena. I know how tough it can be to play there. So we’d love to fill that football team with great kids from the Gem State. That’s going to be priority No. 1.
Q: How do you plan to turn ISU’s program around?
Hawkins: I am trying to create the best student-athlete experience that any college football player could ever have. And I’m not going to stand on the table and say, hey, it’s about winning championships tomorrow. To me, it’s about doing things the right way. And that’s treating people the right way, recruiting the right way, teaching the right way, lifting the right way, practicing the right way.
The right way has to do with, number 1, you’ve gotta work hard. Number two, you’ve gotta have integrity, and you’ve just gotta love on everybody around you, and trust that the process will lead to the results. College football, without a doubt, is a results-based business. But as old Big Hawk (father Dan Hawkins) used to say, ‘seek not the target, rather, to become the bow.’ That’s a line that I use a lot. But if you wanna win, you’ve gotta do the things it takes to win. Don’t worry about winning — just be a winner. And that’s what we’re gonna do.
Q: Have you thought about facing your dad, Dan, when ISU plays UC Davis next year?
Hawkins: He’s the Hawkins. I’m just the younger one. I’m totally fine being that because he’s amazing and has given me a lot of opportunities. But yeah, definitely not looking forward to that game. His birthday is the day before. Big Hawk rarely ever loses on his birthday. His birthday is Nov. 10. I have a niece, my sister who lives in Boise right now, married to former Bronco Tim Brady. Her youngest daughter was born on Nov. 11. So they’re gonna have a big birthday party in Holt Arena. One of the Hawks is gonna be celebrating, the other one’s probably gonna be a little salty. But either way, we’ll all get cake. So that’s a good thing.
Q: How much do you wanna take from your dad in your first head coaching role?
Hawkins: I never wanted to be a head coach. That was never my goal. Now, was I ready to be a head coach? Did I have a belief that I could do it? Absolutely. But I wanted to be a part of a program that, number one, was filled with great people and great culture. Because as much as I love football and drawing up cool plays and scoring touchdowns, I want to be a great husband. And I want to be a great dad. The enticing thing about going to be a head coach is now I don’t put myself at the mercy of the crazy recruiting cycle, where you end up working for a scrooge who doesn’t allow me to be the type of father and husband that I want to be.
At Idaho State, I think Pauline is all about family values. She was raised in Pocatello and has done a lot of great things there in the last couple of years. Those family values, the same love and trust that you have with your players — that needs to be exemplified in how you are with your family. I want my kids to be around the facility. I want my wife to be around the facility. I want the kids over at my house. I want to recruit the type of kids that you know you’d let date your daughter. That’s a long way off in the distance, thank goodness.
But I want guys on the team that I’d be OK with babysitting my kids. I want people in Pocatello to see my family around and feel that I’m really gonna treat their kids like family. Football at its core should be fun. And when Idaho State won a national championship in 1981, and (coach Dave) Kragthorpe and (Dirk) Koetter were there, Babe Caccia kinda had the vision to take that BYU model and start throwing it around all over the yard. You play seven games in a dome at Idaho State, you better take advantage of it. I want people to feel loved. I want a very positive, nurturing experience. But I want it to be really competitive, and be pushed to their limit — but supported at the same time. We wanna be exciting. We wanna throw the heck out of the ball. It never rains at home games in Poky. So that’s the thing we’ve got going for us.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity. You can listen to the full interview here.