Hometown Report: Hawkins' run as Alouettes coach is a short one

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013 - 4:03 pm

He was welcomed with a cooler of water dumped over his head in celebration after winning the season opener in June, the toast of the town north of the border.

Last week, the Montreal Alouettes gave Dan Hawkins a swift kick to the backside in showing him the door.

It was a stunning end for Hawkins, who began his coaching career at his alma mater, UC Davis. He lasted five games in the Canadian Football League, where there is a steep learning curve in three-down football and little margin for error.

Hawkins went 2-3, winning the opener 33-26 over Hamilton and the finale 33-27 against Edmonton. In between, Alouettes players grumbled about Hawkins' playbook and a sputtering offense.

He was replaced by general manager Jim Popp, who stepped in on an interim basis for the third time in his 18 years in the front office. Team owner Bob Wetenhall told reporters: "Jim is the person most responsible for the success we have had all these years."

Hawkins surprised his coaching friends and mentors when he left the college game and headed to the CFL. His résumé includes a 53-11 record at Boise State before a rocky run in Colorado, where he went 19-39. And he's still beloved at Christian Brothers High School as the last coach to lead the Falcons to a playoff victory. That was in 1986, when he looked about as young as his teenage quarterbacks.

Hawkins hasn't spoken publicly about his termination, but Canadian media reports and Montreal players suggest that the differences between the CFL game and American football sunk Hawkins. He apparently struggled to adjust to the wider field and one fewer down. He resisted front-office advice and never stood a chance amid the expectations that come with a franchise steeped in tradition. Montreal has reached Grey Cup championship games seven times since 2000, winning titles in 2009 and 2010.

When the Alouettes blew a 24-0 first-quarter lead in a 38-27 loss to Calgary on July 20, the experiment started to crumble. It was the largest blown first-quarter lead in CFL history.

Most CFL coaches have had experience in the league, though Hawkins' predecessor did not. Marc Trestman, hired by Montreal in 2008, hoisted the Grey Cup in his second and third seasons. In Hawkins, the Alouettes wanted a clone of Trestman, now the Chicago Bears' head coach.

Where Hawkins lands is uncertain. Before heading north, he had feelers from schools such as UTEP. He looked into the San Jose State job last winter, but the interest was not mutual.

Jackson suspended again

Asa Jackson, a second-year Baltimore Ravens cornerback out of CBS and Cal Poly, was suspended for the second time for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drugs policy.

He served a four-game suspension last season as a rookie and now will sit for eight games, losing $225,882 of his $480,000 base salary. The suspensions are for unauthorized use of Adderall, commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Jackson could not be reached for comment, though he did release a statement: "I was diagnosed with a condition that can be treated with a medication allowed under the NFL/NFLPA policy after a player obtains a therapeutic-use exemption. I now have the required approval, but the positive test occurred before it was approved. The policy is very strict, so I have chosen to be immediately accountable. I sincerely apologize to my teammates, coaches and Ravens fans."

Said Ravens coach John Harbaugh to team media: "Reaction to that is you got to follow the rules. You don't follow the rules, you get suspended."

Follow on Joe Davidson @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his "Extra Point" every Wednesday on ESPN1320.net

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