February 19, 2013 - Canadian Football League (CFL) - Montreal Alouettes
Montreal, February 19, 2013 - Montreal, February 19, 2013 - Montreal Alouettes owner Bob Wetenhall and team General Manager Jim Popp announced on Tuesday that Dan Hawkins will become the club's 20th head coach.
Hawkins arrives in Montreal following a long and successful career in the U.S. college ranks, including an impressive 112-61-1 combined record as a head coach at the college level, including stints with both Boise State and the University of Colorado.
"I am delighted to welcome Dan Hawkins to the Alouettes family as our new head coach," said Wetenhall. "Dan comes to us with a distinguished coaching career in major US college football. Dan is especially well known in his profession for the contributions he made to the personal lives of his players as beyond just the science of football, he's by nature a teacher and an unusually fine human being."
"During our selection process we have had extensive interviews with many fine candidates with an emphasis on candidates from Quebec, the rest of Canada and both the professional and college coaching ranks in the US," continued the Alouettes owner. At the end of this process, it became clear to us that Dan was the best candidate at this time in the Alouettes history. We are looking ahead to his continuing the tradition of the Alouettes' success. Dan very well understands my three goals for the franchise, to institutionalize the Alouettes in Montreal, to make meaningful contributions to the community we serve and to win football games."
The 52-year-old got his first taste of the CFL last winter as a guest coach with the Alouettes, working with the team's coaching staff during the offseason meetings while also getting familiarized with the Alouettes roster. He signed a three-year deal.
"We welcome Dan, his wife Misti, and their family to the Montreal Alouettes family," said Popp. "Dan Hawkins is a successful, passionate football coach with a great ability to communicate and motivate the players, coaches, and all who are surrounding him. We welcome his talents to lead our football team in the class room, on the field, and in the community."
Hawkins burst onto the coaching scene with Boise State where he compiled a 53-11 record (.828) over his five seasons, leading the Broncos to victories in the Humanitarian Bowl (2002) and the Fort Worth Bowl (2003).
In the process of leading Boise State to four-straight Western Athletic Conference titles from 2002 to 2005, Hawkins also guided the Broncos to an incredible 31-consecutive wins over conference opponents, while his 53 wins to start his NCAA Division 1 coaching career rank him fourth all-time in the modern era for wins by a rookie coach over their first five seasons. Known for his explosive offences, Hawkins led Boise State to three 500-plus point seasons, including one 602-point campaign.
Prior to coaching at Boise State, Hawkins led the Willamette University Bearcats to 40-11-1 record in four seasons as their head coach, bringing the team to the NCAA Division II National Championship game in 1997. Prior to that, he was defensive coordinator at Sonoma State University for one season after three years as offensive coordinator at the College of the Siskiyous. The last two seasons he served as an analyst on ESPN following five years as head coach at the University of Colorado.
Hawkins has already chosen his coaching staff for the 2013 season and the following coaches will work with him this year:
Mike Miller, Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach
Last season, Miller completed his sixth season with the Arizona Cardinals and second as the club's offensive coordinator. The Pittsburgh, PA native spent two seasons as the passing game coordinator in 2009 and 2010 and served as wide receivers coach in 2007 and 2008, working extensively with Pro Bowlers LarryFitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. In 2008, Miller helped his receivers reach the peak of the game as Fitzgerald, Bolding and Steve Breaston became only the fifth 1,000 yard receiving trio in NFL history. This was the same season which saw the Cardinals reach Super Bowl XLIII where the passing game flourished reeling in 377 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Noel Thorpe, Defensive Coordinator and Defensive Backs Coach
Thorpe enters his first season as the Alouettes defensive coordinator after spending the last two seasons with the Universite de Montreal Carabins in the CIS. In 2012, with Thorpe as the team's first-year defensive coordinator, the Carabins finished the season with an impressive 8-1 record while boasting the top defence in the country, allowing only 102 points in nine games. He was also the head coach of the gold-medal-winning Team Canada squad IFAF U19 World Championship that same year in Austin, TX. Thorpe was the Special Teams Coordinator for the Alouettes from 2003 to 2007.
Ray Rychleski, Special Teams Coordinator Rychleski was the Indianapolis Colts' special teams coordinator at from 2009 to 2011, contributing to the team's success in his first season, with the Colts beginning the 2009 season with 14 straight wins on their road to Super Bowl XLIV. He was also part of the coaching staff which won an NFL-record 23-straight regular season games. In 2009, the Colts finished seventh in the NFL in average starting field position for the offence. In his three years with Indianapolis, the team maintained the third-best successful field goal percentage, in addition to blocking two punts and scoring three touchdowns on special teams. Prior to joining the Colts, Rychleski coached in the NCAA for 28 years, most recently with the University of South Carolina Gamecocks where he was special teams coordinator and tight ends coach in 2008, helping Steve Spurrier's squad reach the Outback Bowl.
Doug Berry, Senior Advisor to the Head Coach
Berry, 64, coached in the CFL for over a decade, spending seven seasons with the Montreal Alouettes, three seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and most recently with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Berry served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for the Roughriders in 2010 and 2011. During his stint with the Roughriders, he helped led the team to a Grey Cup berth and worked closely with quarterback Darian Durant, who led the CFL in passing yards in Berry's first season with Saskatchewan. He entered the CFL back in 1999 when he assumed the role as the offensive line coach with the Montreal Alouettes - a position he held for four seasons. During his time in Montreal, the Alouettes appeared in four Grey Cups and captured the championship in 2002. Under his tenure, Montreal produced three players who were named the league's outstanding linemen including Uzooma Okeke (1999), Pierre Vercheval (2000) and Bryan Chiu (2002).
Frank Verducci, Offensive Line Coach
The native of Glen Ridge, New Jersey coached eight seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns (2007-08), Buffalo Bills (2004-05), Dallas Cowboys (2002) and the Cincinnati Bengals (1999-2001). Prior to moving to professional ranks, Verducci spent 19 seasons in collegiate football at the University of Iowa (1985-1986 and 1989-1998), Northwestern University (1987-1988), Northern Illinois (1984), Maryland (1981-83) and Colorado State (1980). Verducci's served as the Cowboys' offensive line coach which helped pave the way for legendary running back Emmitt Smith to break the all-time NFL rushing record in 2002. In Dallas, he also coached Larry Allen, who is slated to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Verducci also spent two years with Buffalo, including one season as an assistant offensive line and tight ends coach in 2004 before being promoted to offensive line coach in 2005. Under his watch, Bills running back Willis McGahee rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons in the NFL and scored 18 touchdowns over that two-year span.
Mark Speckman, Running Backs Coach
Mark Speckman became head coach of the Menlo College Oaks last season after achieving remarkable success at both the college and high school level. Speckman is mainly known for his achievements at Willamette University, having coached the Bearcats for 17 seasons, including 14 years as the head coach. During his tenure as head coach at Willamette, he posted an overall record of 82-59 (.582) over 14 seasons starting from 1998 to 2011. He also ranks third all-time at Willamette in career wins. The Belmont, California native led the Bearcats to NCAA Division III playoff berths in 1999, 2004 and 2008.
Erik Campbell, Wide Receivers Coach
Campbell, 47, spent the last five seasons as wide receiver coach at the University of Iowa. He also coached the tight ends in his first two years at Iowa beginning in 2008. He joined the Iowa staff after serving as an assistant head coach and receivers coach with the Michigan Wolverines for 13 seasons from 1995 to 2007. During his tenure at Michigan, the 47-year-old groomed some of the school's top wide receivers including future NFL first-round picks: Braylon Edwards, David Terrell and Charles Woodson, with the latter also claiming the Hesiman Trophy. He also oversaw the development of Amani Toomer, a second-round draft pick of the New York Giants (1996); Jason Avant, a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles (2006); Steve Breaston, a fifth-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals (2007).
Keith Willis, Defensive Line Coach
Last season, Willis completed his sixth season as the defensive line coach for North Carolina State Wolfpack having been with the team from 2007 to 2012. In 2012, the Wolfpack played in the Music City Bowl falling short to the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Newark, NJ native saw his defensive unit create havoc behind the line of scrimmage as seven players recorded a minimum of two sacks last season. In 2008, he helped guide a Wolfpack defence that ranked 20th nationally by forcing 28 turnovers. Prior to joining North Carolina State, the 53-year-old served as the defensive line coach for the Boston College Eagles from 2001 to 2006. Willis had a long playing career as a defensive lineman before becoming a coach, spending 12 years in the NFL and recording a 59 career quarterback sacks. He played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 10 seasons and then for the Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills for one season each.
Mark Nelson, Linebackers Coach
Nelson arrives with the Alouettes with 24 years of coaching experience at the professional and collegiate ranks. Most recently, the 56-year-old spent the 2012 season as the Edmonton Eskimos defensive coordinator and linebackers coach helping his team lead the league in interceptions (28) and for most interception return yards (445). He spent the 2009 season with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. Prior to that, Nelson spent 12 years with a number of teams within the NCAA. Nelson broke into professional football coaching with the Edmonton Eskimos in 1992, winning the a Grey Cup in 1993. He left Edmonton to join the San Antonio Texans for the 1995 season before heading back North to serve as the defensive line coach with the Toronto Argonauts in 1996, where he won his second Grey Cup ring.
Jean-Marc Edme, Defensive Assistant / Football Operations Assistant
Edme enters his sixth season with the Alouettes and will continue working as the team's Defensive Assistant/Football Operations Assistant. His responsibilities will include working with the defensive line and assisting the defensive staff with opponent-scouting, playbook drawing, handling scouting reports, personnel, formation tendencies, and consult with in-game situations. During the offseason, Edme works in the Alouettes football operations department, assisting the personnel team in evaluating prospects that are eligible in the CFL draft, potential free agents and helping organize and evaluate prospects in open tryout camps.
Ryan Dinwiddie, Offensive Quality Control Coach
Ryan Dinwiddie makes his coaching debut in 2013 where he will be reunited with Alouettes' head coach Dan Hawkins, who coached the former standout quarterback at Boise State University from 2001 to 2003. Dinwiddie passed for 9,818 yards and 82 touchdowns with the Broncos over that span. Dinwiddie first joined the Alouettes' practice roster near the end of the 2005 season after spending time with the Hamburg Sea Devils in NFL Europe and attending the Chicago Bears' training camp. In 2006, he signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, making his first CFL start against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2007 Grey Cup, a narrow 23-19 loss to the Riders.