The Dart: Hawkins, Bowman enjoy rivalry

Published 12:01 am Monday, December 26, 2011

Dean Bowman, left, and Tony Hawkins are good friends, but they are rivals when it comes to professional football. Bowman is a Saints fan, whereas Hawkins is a lifelong fan of the Dallas Cowboys. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Tony Hawkins and Dean Bowman may both be Vidalia Vikings fans, but that’s where the common ground ends as far as sports is concerned.

Both Hawkins and Bowman graduated from Vidalia in the 1980s — Hawkins in ’85 and Bowman in ’87. When The Dart landed at Bowman’s house on Laurel Street, both he and Hawkins were quickly at odds with one another.

Hawkins, who cheers for Alabama because of Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, said the Tide was going to beat LSU in the national title game Jan. 9. Bowman, of course, begged to differ.

“I was an LSU fan when Nick Saban was there,” Hawkins said. “I like his style. He’s down-to-earth, and he takes care of business, just like he’s going to take care of business Jan. 9. It won’t be won by no field goal — there’s going to be some touchdowns this time.”

But Bowman said LSU would win by double-digit figures.

“Oh yes, the Tigers are going to beat them by 12 or more points,” Bowman said.

Hawkins shot back, questioning just how sure Bowman was about his prediction.

Hawkins does his impression of LSU head coach Les Miles Thursday afternoon on Laurel Street. (Eric Shelton \ The Natchez Democrat)

“I bet you he won’t give me that point spread (in a bet),” Hawkins said.

Although Hawkins said he doesn’t like LSU head coach Les Miles, Bowman said he’s much more receptive to the Mad Hatter.

“I like Les,” Bowman said. “He has everything under control. He did the right thing by starting Jordan Jefferson (at quarterback) again.

“I like (backup quarterback Jarrett) Lee, but he folds under pressure, like when he threw those two interceptions against Alabama the first time they played.”

Hawkins, though, said Miles was “too cool” for him. Hawkins then moved his cap to the topmost part of his head, spread his fingers really wide and did an impression of Miles clapping on the sideline.

“Everyone is going to know what I’m talking about, the way he claps his hands and wears his hat,” Hawkins said.

But Hawkins admitted that Miles is a good coach and has done a good job with the Tigers since taking over when Saban bolted for the Miami Dolphins in 2004. Bowman agreed with Hawkins in that regard.

“Both of them are good coaches,” Bowman said. “I didn’t like the way Saban left Miami afterward. He could have just stayed at LSU.”

The friendly rivalry doesn’t end with college teams. Hawkins, a lifelong Cowboys fan, constantly gives Bowman a hard time about the Saints. But Bowman didn’t back down.

“The Saints are going to the Super Bowl this year,” Bowman insisted. “Green Bay has already folded under the pressure.”

Hawkins, though, said the Cowboys would end up beating the Saints in the Saints’ own house if the two were to meet up in the playoffs.

“The Cowboys are going to win the Super Bowl,” Hawkins said. “They’re America’s team.”

Bowman said Vidalia had a variety of fans, whether they cheer for the Saints, Cowboys or another NFL team. Hawkins corrected him.

“No, what we have a whole lot of is people that jumped on the Saints’ bandwagon,” Hawkins joked. “Ask him which team he was rooting for five years ago.”

Bowman conceded Hawkins’ point.

“The Raiders,” Bowman said.

Although Hawkins was visiting Bowman’s house on Laurel, Hawkins said his house in Ridgecrest has a shed out back with all kinds of Cowboys paraphernalia. One of those was a Cowboys flag a friend gave him from California, which Hawkins thinks has given Dallas some back luck in recent years, he said.

“We’ve even ironed it to try and get the voodoo out of it,” Hawkins joked.

Bowman said Hawkins’ collection of Cowboys gear is impressive, and Bowman credits his friend for sticking with the Cowboys all of his life. For now, though, the two are focused on the national title game.

“I can tell you what the outcome of the game is going to be,” Hawkins said. “Someone is going to outsmart themselves, whether it’s an onside kick, a fake field goal or going for it on fourth down.

“I said that would happen the last time they played. I think it will for sure happen this time.”

But whatever happens, Hawkins and Bowman are sure to be giving one another a hard time for many more years.