In his 23rd year as an assistant at Colorado, he'll finally go up against UH in his hometown
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 25, 2011
Brian Cabral racked up a considerable portion of his frequent-flier miles on trips to Hawaii over the years.
But the longtime Colorado assistant coach and Saint Louis graduate concedes his next visit won't necessarily be routine.
"That's going to be the first time that I'll ever come here to play Hawaii," Cabral said in reference to the Buffaloes' Sept. 3 season opener against the Warriors at Aloha Stadium.
"We've been out here for bowl games but never to play UH. I'm excited about it. I know most of those kids at UH, and our Hawaii kids know most of those kids. It's great to come back home."
So will he wear a lava lava — a tradition he reserves for a big game on the Buffaloes' schedule?
"That's the question of the day," Cabral said lightheartedly. "I don't know which game I'm going to pull that out for; it's kind of a feel thing."
Preparations for the rematch of Colorado's win over UH last year in Boulder will no doubt ratchet up soon. But for this week, Cabral's return centered on providing summertime guidance to the high schoolers who attended the All Poly Camp at McKinley High.
The three-day camp wrapped up on Thursday and provided the players a chance to work with college coaches while taking in lessons on classroom success as much as on-field technique.
"It's something I never had; most of us never had anything like this to work with college coaches and to work with some of the best athletes on the island," said Cabral, a board member of the Polynesian Coaches Association.
"The thing we're trying to accomplish primarily in this camp, besides teaching them football, is also helping them and their families understand what it's going to take academically, by NCAA standards, to get into college."
Cabral ended last season as Colorado's interim head coach after Dan Hawkins was fired. When Jon Embree was hired for the permanent post, Cabral quickly accepted an offer to remain as linebackers coach/defensive run game coordinator. Embree, a former Colorado player and assistant, is the fifth head coach Cabral has worked for in 23 years on the Buffaloes staff.
"The thing I like about this transition is I've worked with most of this staff at Colorado at one time or another," Cabral said. "We all know the same things, most of us grew up underneath Bill McCartney or Gary Barnett and those were years we had a lot of success. As a coaching staff we all understand what it took and how we were successful before."
Colorado also will make the adjustment to a new conference, joining the Pac-12 this season along with Utah. That will put Cabral opposite several of the coaches he worked alongside this week, including Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian.
During the camp, any rivalries — on the field and the recruiting trail — were left for another time.
"You come together and we understand we're doing this for the kids," said Sarkisian, who attended All Poly's Hawaii edition for the second straight summer. "It's not about one program or another, it's about All Poly, and we're doing this for these kids and this community.
"We're in a pretty small fraternity. We compete on a Saturday afternoon, but the rest of the time we're great friends."
Cabral was among the first of an ever-growing group of coaches to mine the islands for Division I talent and was instrumental in three of the state's top prospects — Saint Louis' Juda Parker and Paulay Asiata and Punahou's KT Tuumalo — signing with Colorado in February.
But Cabral said recruiting interests are put aside for the All Poly camp, founded 12 years ago in Utah by PCA president Alema Te'o.
"The reason why we're here is to help these kids, to give something to these kids," Cabral said.
Like Cabral, Sarkisian recruits heavily in Hawaii and also shares his interest in studying UH these days. The Huskies host the Warriors in Seattle the week after the UH-Colorado game.
"We've spent a good amount of time on Hawaii already," Sarkisian said. "They're a very good team coming off a 10-win season. It's going to be a big ballgame for us."