Monday, January 7, 2008

A sad day for Hawaii Warriors football...

It hasn't been a good 2008 for the University of Hawaii Football Warriors.

First it was the schlacking they took from the Georgia Bulldogs on national television in the Sugar Bowl (Yes, I am proud of their accomplishment, but it was a disappointment and was ugly... call it as you see it).

Next was the somewhat surprising departure of star wideout Davone Bess. While a disappointment, we knew that there were other receivers that could take his place capably, so while a key loss, it wasn't debilitating.

But now this...

June Jones leaving UH for the greener (figuratively, read: cash money) and more well facilitied, Southern Methodist University.

The rumblings were heard all this past week, and most of us thought it was just posturing and gaining leverage in the contract renegotiations. We were told constantly that June Jones loved the state of Hawaii and had an affinity for the culture and its people. Many believed that when the dust settled, June Jones would assess the situation, "come to his senses", and return as Hawaii's coach for the next 5 years.


This situation merely pulled back the curtain on the bureaucracy that goes on in Hawaii, and this is just that physical manifestations of these problems brought to light in terms of something the people of Hawaii hold near and dear (primarily due to this year's success), Hawaii football.

Hawaii had every chance to keep June Jones, but it needed to be done YEARS AGO, not in this eleventh hour of negotiations. June Jones was a known commodity in terms of his acumen in handling quarterbacks and creating a potent run and shoot offense. In 1999, Hawaii was fortunate to have him "return to his roots" and resurrect a floundering football program. The process was slow, but sure enough, it happened:

Hawaii scrapped the atrocious, antiquated spread, triple option for the fan friendly, high scoring run and shoot. With their new found scoring success, they upgraded the uniforms to a more stylish and marketable new look. In turn they brought in new recruits who were diverse and skilled to make use of this new offense. And most importantly, all this brought back the fans who were dying to see something different and better.

But it wasn't without reservations did it happen. "Purists" and the like wanted Hawaii to stay where they were, they didn't want the changes to the uniforms or their name, they didn't want to change the offense, and wanted a "homegrown" coach to be their head coach (read: Cal Lee) and not some outsider.

Hawaii started winning... and winning...

In 1999, a 9-4 season after 0-12 to be the largest turn around in NCAA history, even beating my (sometimes) beloved Oregon State Beavers in the Oahu Bowl. 2001-2003, at least 9 wins each season; 2004: 8 wins. 2006, 11 wins, and now 2007, 12 wins and a Sugar bowl BCS bid.

Jones had a direction and vision for Hawaii football that many of us, including myself didn't expect would happen: Hawaii would win, and they would win consistently. They would be ranked in the top 25 and would garner prominence and respect on a national scale.

So mere days after the afterglow of promise that 2007 brought to the Hawaii fans, within a week it all went away. Sugar Bowl disappointment, and now the departure of June Jones. But why?

Despite all its success, June Jones never got the support necessary from his athletic director, Herman Frazier and possibly even previous AD, Hugh Yoshida. Hawaii's facilities should have grown with their successes, not maintained what the had in the 80's and 90's. It is true that all universities are academics first, athletics second, but we all know that the breadwinner for any school is football. Hawaii volleyball is a perennial winner and nationally known, but the REAL revenue comes from football, plain and simple. And as the adage goes, the more money you put in, the more money you get out.

The debacle that is Herman Frazier is beyond 2007's football schedule (which actually worked to Hawaii's favor, though he should take no credit for that), nor is it the ticket issue regarding the Sugar Bowl, or the fact that he believed that due to his pedigree and connections, he could make things happen, like get good teams to play here and attract recruits based on past successes. His biggest downfall is that he never heeded the demands of June Jones to upgrade the facilities, nor was willing and/or wanting to go out on a limb to ask for the money to get it done, which has been said the state was willing to give, all they had to do was ASK!!!

While much of this is speculation on those of us outside of the loop, we can see that at least some of it is true. Thanks to Colt Brennan's notoriety he made it publicly known about the abysmal conditions of the facilities (which in my belief should have been kept in house) and Jones continually enforced that idea that if UH is to have an elite program, they need elite facilities... or even just better ones.


And so through the choices of a few, a state is made to suffer through the impending doom that awaits University of Hawaii football.

Jones said that Hawaii is in a position where they can perpetuate what he started in his tenure here, but I think what he did has sent Hawaii back to the chaos and listlessness we had in the VonOppen years. And while I believe Jones did what's best for himself and his family, he will NEVER be embraced at SMU as he was in Hawaii.

There, he will be a figurehead at the mercy of the boosters and administration who brought him on. They are paying him to return their school to prominence and are paying him handsomely to do so. However, the more you are paid, the greater your responsibilities and allegiances to those that are paying you. He will lack the control to get players like Colt Brennan and Davone Bess who were "troubled history players" who SMU will avoid recruiting. They will lose the recruiting war to the better teams in the region (namely, the Big 12 and Big 10 schools) and will not get the Polynesian players he has grown to love and utilize to the fullest. He is being paid in the top 25, and expectations will be accordingly as high. There is no "aloha" from the cowboys and oil tycoons up there, all they are expecting is wins and a return on their investment.

Hawaii is a forgiving state, but it is also a bandwagon one. Many believe that the vitriol spewed will be laid upon Herman Frazier only. While I believe that to be the case, as we get farther and farther away from that (and his inevitable firing tomorrow), people will grow to not remember June Jones as fondly as they remember him now. He is a sympathetic figure right now, but wait til Hawaii goes 3-9 next year, followed by a few 4-8 seasons... and finally a 1-11, what then?

So as we are forced to go forward from this, changes must be made. The Athletic Director and the improvements to the facilities are a start, but there is a need to address UH's myopic views on allocations of funds and exploit/utilize the resources available to bring the university to prominence.

With Hawaii's greatest coach leaving, the University of Hawaii is at a crossroads. They need a coach that can maintain or hopefully improve the momentum of Hawaii's success (which may be impossible in the immediate future). Hawaii will have to pony up the big bucks for them and bend over backwards to accommodate their every whims. Or they will slide back into obscurity and wait another 10 to 15 years for another "savior" to the program...

Can you say Colt Brennan for coach in 2025? I think so!


Anonymous said...

While I agree with what you are saying, I would like to believe that the future of my beloved University of Hawaii Warrior football team is not as dismal as you think.

As one of the Warrior faithful who suffered with the team through the VonAppen years and our record breaking 13 losses in a row, I was one of the first people to jump on the June Jones bandwagon. With the greatest turn around in NCAA history the next season, things were definitely looking up for the Warriors.

9 seasons later I still think that we are in a rebuilding phase. Winning seasons are one thing, MAINTAINING them and consistently showing that the Warriors can compete with the Big 12, the Big 10, and yes, the SEC is equally important.

At this point, who is to blame for June's departure is a moot point. Yes, we need better facilities, yes, we need to put soap in the showers, and yes, I think every attempt should have been made to keep this stuff behind closed doors.

But it wasn't. So what's the next step? Damage control - we need to reassure and keep the recruits we have signed. We can't take 10 weeks to find a new coach like SMU did. We need to upgrade the facilities and do it fast. We need a new athletic director. One who will actually deliver on promises made. We also need someone above the AD to make sure they are accountable. 13 game regular season? Nope. Signed coaches contract well before it was to expire? Upgraded facilities? Nope. and nope. It should have never taken this long for people above Frazier to intervene. But what's done is done.

I'm not mad at June Jones, but I am over the attempt to try and keep him. He made his decision. Do I think he's in for a rude awakening? Yes I do.

Eternal optimist that I am, I don't think that all is lost. For once we need to focus on what we can do and MAKE that happen. New Coach. New AD. New and improved facilities.

It's possible. No one thought we'd ever make it this far.....

Ka Hale Ola Massage Therapy said...

As a lifelong Hawaii fan and alum, you've seen the pinnacle of the UH football program (its stunning turnaround in 1999, the WAC championships, and this year's BCS bowl berth) and its nadir (the 0-12 season of 1998). And of all the people that discuss the goings on of UH Football, your opinion is one that holds much weight for me.

The football program for the short term is be in a state of disarray unless someone can grab a hold of the reigns quickly. Damage control is essential at this point. The repercussions will be felt (and seen) exponentially the longer we wait to replace the AD and head coach.

When talking to one of my friends recently, perhaps Jones' departure may be the BEST thing that could have happened.

At times, you need something catastrophic to bring things back into focus and begin to move in a positive direction. With his move to SMU, the University of Hawaii has removed an inept (and after all accounts, lazy) athletic director; brought to light the need to create a heirarchy that can provide a "checks and balances" systems to get issues resolved quickly; and most importantly, will get the money to improve the sorely lacking facilites for the entire athletic program.

June Jones was THE galvanizing force of change that was the best fit for the past 9 years that provided the foundation for Hawaii to build upon. But maybe we relied upon him TOO much. We became complacent and happy to "just get there". Like you said, UH's next step in the evolution is to MAINTAIN winning seasons. And perhaps our next coach can and will do that.

Whoever the coach will be must be dynamic, creative, patient, and willing to put in the work because of Hawaii's unique circumstances. All of the qualities are necessary, not just 2 or 3 out of four. And they need that guy NOW!

Anonymous said...

As the dust continues to settle, I would agree with your friend. Perhaps June Jones leaving will be the best thing for UH Warrior football. It brought to light things that needed to be addressed and got rid of an inept AD.

We needed a catalyst, and we got one. The next step is to sign a new coach. We need to assure recruits and players alike that the success of Warrior football does not solely lie with one person. That we can emerge from this situation and still succeed.

And to be perfectly honest, we have some fairly good options for replacements out there. Norm Chow, Duane Akina, Cal Lee....Wait, what's this? Greg McMacking will STAY if he gets the head coach position?

Sign me up, let me be the first to jump on that bandwagon....While I'm offering support and kudos, I feel that I have to mention Adam Leonard, Solomon Eliminian and Blaze Soares, who have all indicated their intent to return to the team....

With Hawaii closing out the season at 19th or 17th depending on what poll you look at, there is a silver lining to our cloud. But we need to act, and act quickly. WE NEED A COACH. What's going to happen next???

Anonymous said...


Yes, I was the one who said it!!! June needed to make himself a "Martyr" in order for things to progress not only for the UH Football program but UH Athletics as a whole.

If he had stayed the administration would think that nothing is wrong and it would be business as usual. A business where in 2002 the track around Cooke Field was resurfaced yet they neglected the football field astro-turf. Business where the field of Les Murakami Stadium was changed to Field-Turf yet nothing was done to replace Cooke Field and the biggest kicker... with the football team making the BCS and earning a bonus of 4 million dollars, the Administration still had to "decide" on how to disperse the money. If the football team earned it... LET THEM USE IT!!! Oh and lets not forget, if June stayed Frazier would still be AD and that arrogant ASS would take all the credit for getting June to come back.

Things happen for a reason and much many Warrior Fans' disappointment... June NEEDED TO GO. Plus if someone offered me $10,000.00... I'd be like where do I sign and you set up direct deposit?!

Now let’s get real with our situation, Norm Chow in line for a head coaching job. Especially when there are currently 4 available positions (Maimi, Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington). Why would he leave a job where he gets paid 2 million a year (just as much as June does at SMU) and come here for peanuts with crappy facilities?! It would take a prayer and a few miracles for Norm Chow to come back toHawaii.

Lets focus on our best option. Greg “BIG” McMackin. He has the resume and the contacts to get the recruits. He knows the Hawaii people and loves it. With him most of the coaching staff will stay intact and we might not lose as many of our freshman recruits. And he is a badass at defense.

Even if you don’t agree with me, I say the Board of Directors should use their brain and make McMackin the Interim Head Coach since he is still in contract until the end of March. Get him use to the idea of being head coach, and add some stability to the football program during this turbulent time.

I am not sure if I had a point to this whole comment… yeah I was rambling… but I think its funny that the Word Verification for me to post this comment is: FOQKUO