A huge BTB Happy Birthday to Coach Ernest Hawkins.

Blogging the Blacklands would like to take this time to wish a happy birthday to legendary Coach Ernest Hawkins. Coach Hawk turned 90 over the weekend and it was attended by many former players and alums of ETSU/TAMUC.


Coach Ernest Hawkins is carried off the field by players and fans after the East Texas State Lions defeated the Carson-Newman College Eagles 21-18 in the NAIA Division I Championship Bowl at Memorial Stadium in Commerce, TX on December 9, 1972. Photo Courtesy: TAMUC Athletics. 

The profound impact that Coach Hawkins has had on the University and the football program has been immeasurable. He has coached NFL Hall of Famers, Super Bowl MVP’s US Congressmen, social advocates and many more.

Coach Hawk came to Commerce after being born in West Texas in 1927. He graduated from Lamesa High School and then attended Texas Tech University, where he was the starting QB for the Red Raiders from 1947-49, leading to two Sun Bowl and the Raisin Bowl, along with three border conference championships. He also lettered and excelled in Basketball and Track.

Upon graduation, Hawkins became an assistant Football Coach at Paris Junior College and Head Basketball Coach. He eventually became an AD, before making the move to Commerce, TX.

Hawkins became an assistant on J.V. Sikes’ potent Lions squad. As an Assistant, he was on two Tangerine Bowl Championship teams (one win was a tie, shared with Arkansas State), and 4 LSC Championships. Sikes died suddenly in the Spring of 1964, and Hawkins took the role of Head Football Coach.

Over the next 21 seasons, Hawkins won 4 conference championships, one division championship went to the post season 3 times playing in 5 postseason games, racked up 132 victories, and won a National Championship in 1972 and were National Semi-Finalists in 1980.


US Congressman Mike Conaway (left) greets former Texas A&M-Commerce Coach Ernest Hawkins before the Lion’s Homecoming game in 2015. Conaway played under Hawkins from 1966-1969 and was a member of two Lone Star Conference title teams coached by Hawkins.

His success set up successors such as Coach Eddie Vowell to continue the tradition in Commerce. Coach Hawk is an integral part of the Lion family and the Commerce community, and today we salute his service, and his life. Happy 90th Coach Hawk, it never looked better.


Coach Ernest Hawkins watches a practice at Memorial Stadium in Commerce.

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