Dan Hawkins knows how this whole deal works. It's nothing new for the Colorado coach who has been a Division I head coach since 2001.
"You win, the wagon gets fuller. You lose, the wagon gets lighter," he said. "That’s pretty much the case everywhere."
Hawkins' Buffaloes wagon is carrying a few more passengers after last week's 24-3 win over rival Colorado State, and like every weekend, he'll have a chance to pick up -- or lose -- a few more with a game at future Pac-10 opponent Cal.
He hasn't been shy about letting people know he likes and has high hopes for this year's version of his team. But that's been the case most seasons under Hawkins, and he's still 0-4 in achieving a winning season in Boulder. Last week was a good start, but a win Saturday in Berkeley would go a long way toward proving Hawkins right this time, especially after last season's 1-4 start.
"We got off to a good start, I mean, momentum is such a big part of all games and certainly with college kids," Hawkins said. "I think they’ve got a better grasp of what we’re doing on both sides of the ball."
But knowledge that Colorado's proverbial wagon exists and checking the number of its passengers are two very different things. Call it cliché if you'd like, but for Hawkins and his colleagues, that's life. He's not worried about what a win over Cal means for his job security or his team's bowl chances. He's worried about getting a win over Cal.
"All media guys look at that, but 99 percent of every football coach I know is so locked into the next game, they’re not going, 'How does that affect the rest of the season, or how does this fit in the context of the rest of the season?' Hawkins said. "You just kind of take it as a one-game season, you go after it, and you take it from there. That’s kind of how we look at it."
And Hawkins feels he has a team who shares his view, led by a group of seniors who reiterate Hawkins' sentiments to the underclassmen, making sure the focus each week is on Saturday, and no further.
"Hopefully you get a little confidence from it," he said of a win. "But at the same time, you’ve got to have a mature football team that understands the week-to-week grind and what it takes. You take confidence from the wins, but that doesn’t mean anything the next week. You lose and that doesn’t mean anything the next week either.
"You’ve got to be able to take it in the right context."