Gold medal winner Dan Hawkins named Big Sky Coach of the Year after guiding UC Davis to historic season

Team USA’s World championship gold medal winning head coach Dan Hawkins, has been named Big Sky Conference Coach of the Year after guiding UC Davis to a historic season.

Historic milestones started back in August, when UC Davis earned its third victory versus a FBS program, continued through its 100th season of football with a six-game win streak, an undefeated home record, two top-10 national rankings and a FCS playoff appearance, all historic firsts for the football program. Then came the Coach of the Year award.

Last weekend, UC Davis won its inaugural Big Sky title, which led to its first-ever FCS postseason appearance — a game that will take place on Dec. 1 at Aggie Stadium.

Hawkins, who guided the United States to an overwhelming gold medal in the 2015 IFAF World Championships, and then, as offensive coordinator, helped Sweden’s Carlstad Crusaders win both the Swedish title and the IFAF Europe Champions League crown, as well as coaching with Austria’s Vienna Vikings, was an easy choice for conference officials for Coach of the Year.

However, Hawkins is quick to point out the importance of the organization:

“These awards are a result of working at a great place, with great leadership that facilitates success. We have an amazing staff and special student-athletes. You cannot achieve excellence by yourself. There are a thousand invisible moments that occur each and every day by everyone associated with UC Davis football. I am humbled with this award, and pleased to accept it on behalf of everyone associated with one of the great academic, and athletic programs in the country. This is recognition for a job well done by everyone within UC Davis Athletics, and still continuing.”

This is the first time an Aggie was named Coach of the Year. Wednesday’s announcement took place less than 24 hours after UC Davis received a program-record 12 All-Big Sky awards, a collection of honors that also includes Offensive Player of the Year (junior quarterback Jake Maier this season, Keelan Doss last year) for the second consecutive season.

In just his second season leading his alma mater’s football program, Hawkins took a 2-9 team and turned it into one that finished the 2018 regular season with nine overall and seven league victories, both program records.

With Hawkins on the sidelines, UC Davis also earned its first-ever Top 25 ranking. And once the Aggies earned a spot on the national media poll, they continued to climb up in on a weekly basis, reaching as high as No. 4. and ranked for 11 weeks entering postseason play.

A combination of their ranking, performance on a weekly basis, overall and league records, quality of schedule and wins allowed the Aggies to earn a No. 6 seed from the NCAA FCS Playoff Committee, another first for the program. This allowed UC Davis to earn a bye and host its inaugural FCS home playoff game in program history on Dec. 1, against Northern Iowa or Lamar.

Under Hawkins’ tutelage, four Aggies are finalists for major national awards this year. Maier and Doss are in the running for the Walter Payton Award, presented to the most outstanding offensive player in the nation; senior linebacker Mason Moe is the Aggies’ first-ever candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, bestowed on the best defensive player in the country; redshirt freshman Ulonzo Gilliam is the program’s inaugural nominee for the Jerry Rice Award, bestowed on the freshman of the year.

Hawkins himself is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the top FCS coach.

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