A sad day for Hawaii Warriors football...
Jan 08, 2008
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.
BUT IT NEVER HAPPENED...
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!