Tuesday, November 10, 2015

U.H. Football

     There's a saying I love:  fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
     With U.H.'s recent firing of football head coach Norm Chow, there's been talk of rehiring June Jones who left in very bad graces (greedy—wanted more money; I guess 1.7 million dollars per year wasn't enough) about eight years ago.
     Why bother?
     At SMU, which he recently left in bad graces for personal reasons, he amassed a lousy 36-43 record. Does U.H. want that?
     Bob Jones in Midweek recommended U.H. switch from the FBS (for big, rich schools) to the FCS (for smaller, budget-conscious schools). He thinks it may not result in cost savings (U.H. Football currently loses money year after year after year) but should result in more wins.
     I say it will likely result in substantial cost savings due to reduced salaries, scholarships, staff, and training, recruitment, maintenance, and other costs. Nix the half-a-million-dollars-plus head coach salary (Norm Chow gets $550,000), duplicate offensive and defense coordinators, line coaches, quarterback coaches, assistant coaches and on and on and on, plus state-of-the art air conditioned luxury training and other facilities 'cause expectations will be scaled back.
     Best of all, the costly distraction that football has become from U.H.'s core academic mission will be largely abated. (Why is a coach among the highest paid U.H. positions? Or state positions? What message does that send our youth? Or other civil service employees who do a lifetime of far more meaningful work for far less?)
     During June Jones' heyday at U.H., one of my most painful family experiences occurred. The team won its bowl game, and in a show of good sportsmanship (and for the second time in about three years) engaged in a full-scale, bench-cleaning, on-field brawl (which later got replayed on national T.V.  Welcome to the Aloha State!) Metal folding chair were flung and one was swung and used to strike at least one player's back...) Mid-brawl, I switched off the T.V. we were watching at my sister's house 'cause there were kids present, at least one whom was getting disturbed. This on Christmas day, by the way.
     At that point the angry ball of energy in the room got redirected towards me—even by some of the most reasonable and even-keeled of family members.
     It was a tough stand to take, but I held. And took the abuse, and kept the T.V. off though many insisted I switch it back on. I suggested we continue the Christmas activity we had started but put off until the game's conclusion.
     Since then, I've been looking forward to the day when U.H. football is no longer a part of the big school conference. (U.H. is a minnow compared the mainland large schools, both in terms of enrollment and dollars. Which is why they can never compete against the best, such as Georgia in the Sugar Bowl (42 Bulldogs, U.H. 10, Notre Dame in the Hawaii Bowl (49-21), or Tulsa in the Hawaii Bowl (62-35). Sure, U.H. has had a few big wins along the way, but these are becoming increasingly rare and ever more distant, almost like faded memories, tarnished by years of black oblivion.)
     In less than three years, Braden will be college age, possibly entering U.H. Student athletic fees (currently fifty dollars per semester) to subsidize oversized football salaries and budgets (18 coaches/coordinators/assistant /trainers, etc. are listed on the website) may by then be doubled or tripled to add hundred of dollars on top of tuition and other fees to his enormous student loans. Unfortunately, such athletic fees are not and will not be optional—all students will have to pay.
     FBS football, optional for the school, is an expensive and huge distraction from academics that drains valuable resources (there's a long list of overdue building repairs and maintenance at Manoa amounting to over $400 million), is demoralizing, and is bound to produce long-term noncompetitive bottom-of-the-heap losers. And is something U.H. and the state should get rid of by season's end at the latest.
     How many more losing seasons and 3.5 million dollar deficits are the school gunning for? It's been eleven deficits years out of the past thirteen as of 2014, sure to be twelve out of fourteen as of 2015. Is the school out to set some sort of loser/deficit records? Is that how it intends to rebuild its fan base and return the program to profitability? U.H., Hawaii's brain trust, needs to think this through clearly and act wisely now. Future generations of students will be thankful for it.

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