Gandhi leaves WAC starving
YES, it does sadden me that Dan Hawkins is leaving the Western Athletic Conference for Colorado.
As a sportswriter, it has been a dream come true to refer to a coach simply as "Gandhi."
You live your whole life for a nickname like that.
And now it's gone.
First UTEP's Mike Price -- who once dressed as a miner and leads his team onto the field while carrying a pick -- moves on to Conference USA. And now this.
Oh, sure, New Mexico State's Hal Mumme very well might someday do something crazy enough to earn a quirky nickname. But it won't be the same.
This was "Gandhi."
And this just goes to show that nobody's different. Of course, Hawkins was. He was very, very different, when it comes to being a college football coach. But now he's just as gone. What does that tell you?
After all, didn't he have "special feelings" for Boise State?
And he did, I believe that. I'm not saying he didn't. It was true.
But it's a lot easier to have special feelings when there isn't a better offer on the table.
Even a guy like Gandhi is going to break your heart when he gets a deal like this.
It's nice to have speculation swirling around your name. It's flattering to get phone calls asking about your interest in other jobs. But Hawkins really did have special feelings for Boise State. He had no reason to chase after things. He was happy. He wasn't going to jump at everything that came by.
But it's different when you are a target, not a candidate. When it's not speculation, but real. When the bigger, better place comes to you and lays it all out. And it's a great western town, like a Boise, only bigger. Better. And Hawkins had to have started thinking, "Well, maybe someplace else could be special, too."
It's different when the offer you can't refuse is actually offered. When it's right there in front of you, and not just a couple of phone calls and a newspaper top-five list.
Then, it turns out, even Gandhi would go.
Today they should be popping champagne corks at Hawaii and Fresno State. June Jones and Pat Hill are better coaches today. Better because they won't have to match up against Hawkins any more. Better because they will no longer be compared with what Hawkins did.
Ding, dong, the witch is dead.
Today, the WAC is a worse conference. Believe that.
Let's face it, the WAC was not hitting big in any of the power ratings before this, and Hawkins was so far ahead of everyone else it was ridiculous. It isn't exactly the Southeastern Conference to begin with, and now all that's left is a bunch of guys who couldn't beat him. Whose WAC winning percentages weren't even close.
That's half empty. Half full is, everything's wide open now. Everyone has to think he has a shot to win the league.
And yes, that includes Chris Petersen, the former offensive coordinator, now new Boise State head coach. Reports out of Boise have all the players sounding content and confident. Petersen can do it, they say. Nothing changes. He's the guy. Broncs roll on.
Sure, things may continue to hum under Petersen. They probably will. Everything is in place and Petersen was a huge part of Boise's success. But to say there's no drop-off is to say Hawkins wasn't special.
And I believe he was.
You don't have three straight undefeated conference seasons, no matter how good you are, no matter which league it is, unless there's something special going on.
He was Gandhi, for goodness sake.
And he's gone.
Today, Jones and Hill high-five each other. Today, the WAC -- already heavy on Sun Belt alums -- takes another dip.
Today this space loses the greatest nickname in sports.