Hawkins insists he didn't predict 10-win season

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

IRVING, Texas -- Colorado coach Dan Hawkins claimed Wednesday during his appearance at the Big 12 media days that he never made his celebrated "10 wins and no excuses" promise for the upcoming season.

Instead, he said he merely used the statement to challenge his players to achieve that number when he said "10 wins and no excuses" at the Buffaloes' team banquet last December.

"I always love good Internet rumors out there that everybody kind of jumps on as fact," Hawkins said. "But here's the deal with that. It's like when we brought our football players to the stadium [the Dallas Cowboys' stadium] yesterday. I think the goal is always excellence.

"I'm never going to sell our guys short. I'm a big believer in your expectations, your vision and what your standard is. It's not really about the wins. But I didn't guarantee or promise anything. I didn't threaten anything. That was never a part of it."

But no matter how Hawkins spins it, there's no doubt he's expecting vast improvement from last season's disappointing 5-7 season -- the second time in three seasons the Buffaloes have failed to make a bowl trip under Hawkins. Colorado is 8-16 is conference play in Hawkins' coaching tenure there.

"The statement is about what your expectations and your level of excellence are," Hawkins said. "What do you expect to have happen? That's the concept of it. I told the guys it's not about having eight, nine, 10, 11 or 12 games. It's about the bar of excellence and what they expect.

"If you don't expect to get an A, how are you going to get it? I know that great things can happen and we're only a stone's turn from having it happen. Every place I've ever been at, we've won championships. It's a part of our expectations."

Colorado players say that Hawkins' proclamation enthused them as soon as they heard it. And whether it was meant to be a prediction or not, they said it was a stimulus for them that helped spur strong off-season work in the preparations for the upcoming season.

"I think it's purely motivation," Colorado senior linebacker Jeff Smart said. "It motivates us to hear that the coach thinks we can win 10 games. It just makes us want to work harder knowing if we do everything we're capable of, we have a shot of winning 10 games."