Dan Hawkins has two titles at UC Davis: head football coach and head tour guide.
If you do the math, you’ll see Hawkins will take his 18-22-year-old team on the road six times this fall, traveling out of state on four of those trips.
Football forays into enemy territory tend to be fast-paced affairs, with little or no time for extracurricular activities.
That’s not the case if Hawkins is in charge. Like many college football teams, the Aggies normally depart by charter plane Friday at noon, regardless of distance to destination or Saturday game time. And they always, without exception, get back on that same plane immediately after the game, sometimes not returning to campus until 2 or 3 a.m. on Sundays.
Still, realizing he’s in a position of influence at one of the nation’s top-rated universities, Hawkins is trying to create as many educational opportunities as possible in what, for any other team, would be strictly an educational journey. business.
At UC Davis, really, we don’t deal with student-athletes, but with college-athletes.
Indeed, far more Aggies end up in medical school, vet school, or law school or go to the moon than land in the NFL.
For the season opener in Tulsa, the three Aggie team buses did not travel to an unfamiliar stadium for the traditional Friday afternoon tour, but to the new Greenwood Rising exhibit along the historic Black Wall Street. It was the site 100 years ago of one of the worst racial massacres in American history.
It was a moving experience that had nothing to do with what could happen on the football pitch on Saturday night.
The following weekend, the Aggies were scheduled to play a Saturday afternoon game at the University of San Diego.
So how did they spend Friday afternoon after arriving in a city long known for its association with the United States Navy?
Yes, they visited every deck and every aging aircraft of the USS Midway, learning about its long history dating back to just after the end of World War II. Again, time well spent.
Out-of-state trips remaining in the coming weeks include games in Pocatello and Flagstaff, both played in sprawling indoor arenas in areas where fall can sometimes feel like winter.
I don’t know what detour the coach has up his sleeve for Pocatello, but don’t be surprised to see pictures of several buses full of Aggie football players participating in the annual Idaho potato harvest, with seminars explaining the difference between a roux, a fry and a Yukon Gold.
Or maybe they’ll hit the ski slopes of Sun Valley.
Then it’s on to Flagstaff, which is located in that part of Arizona where the mighty saguaro cactus doesn’t grow. In fact, the mascot of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff is the Lumberjack, which should tell you something about the terrain surrounding this small town at 6,900 feet above sea level.
The largest ponderosa pine forest in the world is just 26 miles away in the Coconino National Forest, and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is just 79 miles from town. I hear the buses warming up now.
Football. Come for the education, stay for the game.
— Contact Bob Dunning at [email protected]