Kalani Simpson

Friday, June 10, 2005

The bard of Boise tells all

IT'S sure to sell thousands of copies.

Well, at least eight.

That's right, folks. The rest of the Western Athletic Conference just might have a chance now. It's like the Colonel giving up his chicken recipe.

Dan "Gandhi" Hawkins is writing a book.

I've added Gandhi to Hawkins' name lately because the Boise State coach -- when facing a question of possibly running up the score -- once asked if Gandhi (among other historical figures) would have taken a knee.

OK, first, it's a great line. Gandhi? That's gold. To me, Hawkins is "Gandhi" for life.

Second, it's a great comeback. Coaches know better than anyone (politicians included) how to turn the tables in order to keep questioners at bay.

But the more you think about it, the more you realize Hawkins was serious. And the more you think about that, the more it becomes apparent that, no, Gandhi would not have taken a knee. And then you get it. We may not have thought of him in this way, but Gandhi was one of the toughest human beings of all time, and he did not stop fighting until he won.


Maybe Hawkins has something there.

Well, of course he has something. His guys always execute. You can't remember the last time the Broncos didn't come ready to play.

The guy has gone unbeaten in conference games the last three years -- has been beaten only twice by WAC teams -- is 44-6 overall, has three 11-plus-win seasons. He's lapping the rest of the WAC.

And if he's writing a book, I'm reading it. There has to be something to this Gandhi stuff. There has to be a reason why this kind of thing can happen in ... Idaho?

The book, according to co-author Bob Evancho, is going to be sort of a "Sacred Hoops" (you know, the Zen Master's book). "It's not much about football, per se," Evancho said. "Certainly not X's and O's." OK, no strategy, just philosophy.

And yes, it turns out that Hawkins does base his coaching on Gandhi and the like -- the writings of Abraham Lincoln, the teachings of Mother Teresa, the rock and roll of Van Morrison, believe it or not.

Man, I am reading this book.

As Kramer once said, "A story like that's just gotta be true."

"It just comes from a lot of reading that he does," Evancho said. "He reads the great books." He looks to Nelson Mandela and Thomas Jefferson and Crazy Horse and Martin Luther King.

Evancho, BSU's associate director of communications, had already co-authored two books -- about coach Pokey Allen and Boise jazzman (yes, there is such a thing) Gene Harris. About midway through last season's miracle run he started eyeing the Hawk.

Evancho gave Hawkins the Pokey Allen book, told him to think about doing one of his own.

"It was totally my idea," Evancho said. "In fact I had to do a little convincing."

Hawkins, who comes across as low-key (at least from an ocean away) was supposedly hesitant at first. But he was eventually won over by the idea that he'd been inspired as a young coach after reading a book written by Chuck Knox.

So the manuscript, while not a biography, will include a few snippets of his own life, too. "He comes from a pretty hard-scrabble background," Evancho said. "His dad was a logger."

And once, as a young assistant at Sonoma State, his position was eliminated. But the story goes that Hawkins kept showing up anyway, essentially working a year for free.

And it was as a player and assistant at UC Davis, where Hawkins learned what Evancho called a "holistic approach to football." Apparently at Davis winning wasn't everything or the only thing.

And now Hawkins is holistically beating everybody's brains in.

As I said, there are at least eight other guys who should read this thing.

Jerry Jeff Walker? Thomas Jefferson? Sun Tzu?


"He's the real deal," Evancho said.

OK. Reserve my copy today.

At this point, they're still writing. Hawkins and Evancho meet about once a week. There's no publisher yet, no advance agreement. It doesn't scream "New York Times Bestseller List." It would be a regional, niche product, to be sure.

"We were hoping that it would be out during the season, but I don't think that's realistic," Evancho said.


And I'm probably not the only one who wanted to finish reading it before the fall. There were at least eight others.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Sports Desk


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