BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan says outgoing Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson deserves to leave the club with "dignity", detailing his surprise and disappointment at seeing Clarkson effectively forced out of the club.

Hawthorn's tumultuous week didn't reflect on the footy field on Sunday, with the cellar-dwelling Hawks staging a massive upset in defeating premiership contenders Brisbane in Launceston.

The Hawks announced on Friday that club legend Sam Mitchell would take over the coaching reins from Alastair Clarkson at the end of 2021, a season earlier than previously outlined, putting to bed months of speculation over the club's future.

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Fagan was one of Clarkson's right-hand men in the Hawks' football department during a golden era that delivered four premierships, before moving to the Lions at the end of 2016.

The pair locked horns on Sunday in Launceston, where Hawthorn produced a stunning 12-point upset of finals-bound Brisbane to move away from the bottom of the ladder.

"It's an interesting situation they find themselves in," Fagan said.

"I would've thought of all the coaches in the AFL that the one guy that might've had the opportunity to go out on his terms and with a little bit of dignity would have been 'Clarko'.

"But it seems from a distance that hasn't been the case.

"I hope he's not lost to footy, he's a brilliant coach and his team played for him today."

Fagan said he has "enormous respect" for Clarkson and is "sad to see" one of the greatest coaches of the modern era won't continue at Hawthorn.

06:08 Mins
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'His team played for him today': Fagan mystified by Clarko call

Watch Brisbane's press conference after round 20's match against Hawthorn

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The Hawks are replacing Clarkson with former midfield champion Mitchell, who has been an assistant coach at West Coast and Hawthorn since retiring from playing in 2017.

Mitchell has also been in charge of VFL team Box Hill.

Hawthorn have been heavily criticised for their handling of Clarkson's departure after 17 seasons at the helm.

"I'm not there so I don't know all the inner workings, I'm only making an observation from a distance, but it just seems to me it could have happened in a better way," Fagan said.

Fagan said he expected a fierce attack from Hawthorn but was at a loss to explain his side's lack of intensity in the first three quarters, when they were out-tackled and out-muscled around the ball.

"Given the week that they've had, I'm pretty sure that they were always going to react for Clarko because they have enormous respect for him," Fagan said.

"We didn't think for one minute that this was going to be just turn up and get the points."

08:12 Mins
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'This club's got some heart': Clarkson thrilled with Hawks' performance

Watch Hawthorn's press conference after round 20's match against Brisbane

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Clarkson said his players had been steeled by the external criticism of the club's perceived messy handling of the coaching situation.

"They're the first bunch of guys that can pull on the jumper and show the football world - and certainly our supporters - that this club's got some heart," Clarkson said.

"You can't be on top of the ladder all the time and we'll find a way to get ourselves back there, but just at the minute we needed to show our supporters that pulling on the brown-and-gold really meant something."