The celebration of Bob Biggs’ 39-year stay in the Aggie football program has yet to fade, when suddenly all eyes have focused just beyond the UC Davis icon to his successor.
UCD Athletic Director Terry Tumey is being masterful at holding off the media during this seven-month search for Biggs’ replacement.
The coach’s farewell tour commanded respect and Tumey provided that.
But now, let the rumors fly.
Pick a name … Paul Wulff, Nick Aliotti, Dan Hawkins, Jeff Tedford.
Tedford, who was instrumental in molding Aaron Rodgers into the brilliant NFL quarterback he is, just became available when he was fired this week from Cal.
Wulff, Jim Harbaugh’s senior offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers, is a 1985 Davis High graduate who had a woeful four-year coaching career at Washington State.
Aliotti, a standout Aggie running back in the 1970s, is a former UCD assistant who is in his third stint with the University of Oregon — this time as defensive coordinator.
And Hawkins — a television talking head since being ousted at Colorado — is a former Aggie player and assistant who was nothing short of brilliant in taking Boise State to its current national gridiron prominence.
Each could be a viable, name candidate to replace Biggs. All are intriguing. All are mindful of the so-called Aggie Way.
But is one of that quartet headed here?
We’ll find out soon enough. School officials know that the earlier the new coach is on board, the better the transition and the more meaningful recruiting will be. That National Letter of Intent day looms in February.
While nobody is talking about which end is up with the long national search, there are certain indicators that can pare down the field.
It seems Tedford has come on the scene too late. In a search process that goes back to Biggs’ retirement announcement earlier this calendar year, no matter how big his hat, Tedford is tardy throwing it into the ring (assuming he wanted to anyway).
Wulff, a Blue Devil contemporary of DHS associate head football coach Marc Hicks in the mid-1980s, is snug in his position with the San Francisco 49ers — and with the emergence of Harbaugh’s new-look offense, Wulff seems to be all in on the pro level.
Aliotti, who was a frequently mentioned name early on, may be in the pecking order to replace Chip Kelly with the Ducks. Therefore, Aliotti has removed his name from consideration as the new Aggie head coach.
That leaves us with Hawkins. And he’s not a bad guy to be “left with”…
A former Aggie fullback, Hawkins coached with Jim Sochor for three years before taking the reins at Christian Brothers High. Stops at the College of the Siskiyous and Sonoma State came before a gig as head coach at Willamette University in Salem, Ore.
From there it was on Boise State, where he went 53-11 in five seasons, putting the Broncos on the map.
Next it was Colorado. A not-so-hot 19-39 there sent Hawkins into the broadcast booth.
Hawkins understands that Aggie Way. He’s at home in Northern California. And he certainly knows what it takes to elevate a program from one level to the next.
Steve Smyte, Davis High’s head coach and a guy who Hawkins once hired as receivers coach at Boise State, said Hawkins had the answers in Boise.
“He was great at galvanizing community and bringing in money,” Smyte told me this week. “He changed the whole vision. He’s a big-picture guy. (Boise State) would not be where (the program) is now without Dan Hawkins.”
Smyte spent almost three years with Hawkins, whom he called “one of those dreamer guys who makes it happen. He lets the (assistant) coaches coach, too.”
We know Hawkins has expressed interest in the Davis job. We know the Aggies need a guy with the ability to raise the bar and money. UCD can’t continue to execute on a shoestring budget and Hawkins would be a boost in helping cash flow, both in name and in action.
The Hawkins checklist: Interested in the job? Check. Charismatic, engaging? Check. Fundraiser? Check. Football guy? Check.
I suspect this search has been a one-horse race for some time — we talked about Hawkins in this column during the course of 2012 — but you just never know, especially when the campus hierarchy has been so close to the vest about the process.
We’ll know soon. Christmas should come early to UC Davis football fans.
While I Have You Here: From the Woke Up In a Cold Sweat Department: There isn’t a chance — should Hawkins indeed become UCD coach — that Smyte eventually will wind up back with Hawkins and the Aggies while Biggs walks over to Davis High and lends a hand on that gridiron … is there?
I’m going back to sleep.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.