IRVING, Texas — Nine months ago, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins said if he had it to do over again he would not have brought his son, Cody, to Boulder to play quarterback.
With a week remaining before the start of fall camp, Hawkins is once again faced with the possibility of naming his son the starter.
During interviews at Big 12 Conference football media days Wednesday, Hawkins once again said he doesn’t see much difference between junior Tyler Hansen, who started the final seven games of last season, and Cody Hawkins, who is a senior this fall and has played in more than 30 games at CU.
Hawkins said he hopes to choose a starter midway through camp after several scrimmages. The fact that his son might not be a popular pick among fans won’t enter into the decision.
“We’re not going to base our judgments on that,” Hawkins said. “We’re not going to base our judgments on, you know, if our staff decides that Tyler is the guy, he’s the guy. If they decide (running back Brian Lockridge) is the guy or whoever is the guy, that’s the guy.
“You’re not going to sway that one way or the other based off of who the kid is. We’re going to play whoever we can play who is going to give us the best chance to win. You just can’t control the outside stuff.”
This is the second straight year Colorado has entered camp with questions about who will start under center and Hansen replaced Hawkins as the starter briefly in the 2008 season as well. The Buffs are not alone in the Big 12 in not knowing who the starter will be at quarterback, but Hawkins acknowledged he would like to know the answer to the question before camp.
“It’s like the rest of life,” Hawkins said. “The goods and bads. The good is you’ve got guys. You’ve got guys you can believe in. You’ve got guys who can play. The bad thing is you’d rather have one guy be clear front and center, but it’s not that way.”
While Hawkins sees competition being close heading into fall camp, that sentiment isn’t necessarily echoed by players who have been participating in seven-on-seven workouts all summer.
Senior wide receiver Scotty McKnight said both quarterbacks are capable of leading the team this fall, but he expects Hansen to be under center when the Buffs face Colorado State on Sept. 4.
“He’s taken all the reps with the ones this summer,” McKnight said. “He’s run all the player-run practices. He’s taken that leadership role on and guys have really accepted it and they love it. He’s one of those guys who has played well in games and he’s been a tough kid whether it’s diving for a first down or whatever it is. People react well to Tyler.
“He’s kind of transitioned himself this offseason from being a running quarterback who has a good arm to now he knows his reads, he knows the protections, the defenses and all of that. All the different things that go into being a quarterback. He’s gotten so much better. He’s more of a pocket passer who also now has the ability to elude defenses and run.
“I’ve seen so much growth in Tyler over the summer. It’s been huge.”
Dan Hawkins has talked about his son becoming a coach after his playing career ends, but he ruled out the possibility that Cody Hawkins could remain at CU next season as a member of the coaching staff or graduate assistant.
“I think, for him, he wants to take a year or so to do something, whatever it is,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins, who came to Colorado from Boise State after the 2005 season, was asked plenty of questions about his former program, which is expected to be ranked among the top five teams, if not the top two, in the nation to start the season. Hawkins, meanwhile, is still looking for his first winning season with the Buffs. He was asked if he ever had buyer’s remorse in leaving Boise State for CU.
Hawkins said he has built every program he has been a part of into a winner and moved on. He said he came to CU because it was the right decision for him at the right time in his life, despite some of his peers and friends warning against it.
“When you live the life, you’ve got to get outside your comfort zone,” Hawkins said. “Every experience brings something to the table. I mean, we were city champs at Christian Brothers High School. I could have stayed there forever.
“I could have stayed at Siskiyous forever. I could have stayed at Willamette forever. I could have stayed at Boise forever. ... For me, you don’t make those decisions based on, ‘Am I going to make more money?’ I came to Colorado because I said, ‘Okay, this is going to be a great test. This going to be a great chance for me to ply my trade at this place based on these circumstances.’ That’s why you go.”
One of the most common questions asked of CU players throughout the day concerned their desire to win games to save their coach’s job. Hawkins also faced questions about his job security. They are questions he has been answering since early last season.
“I don’t ever worry about that,” he said. “We were down in the Rangers’ locker room and their No. 1 goal is not worrying about winning or losing. It’s all about chasing personal excellence and if you can do that in your life, you’re going to be the very best you can be. The rest you can’t control.”