Friday, April 18, 2014         

Ferd's Words Premium

Can somebody here beat Cal Poly, please? If you have followed the University of Hawaii's fortunes since joining the Big West Conference especially, you might have begun to wonder.

Watching quarterback Jeremy Higgins flip a pass to receiver Quinton Pedroza as linebacker Jeremy Castro tries to break up the play this spring makes for a revealing snapshot of the changing look of the University of Hawaii football team.

The $5,152,000 question now that the Pro Bowl won't be here in January is: What will the Hawaii Tourism Authority do with the money it saves?

No matter how deep her struggles, how ragged her putting or how many cuts she missed, Michelle Wie always seemed able to talk about closing the gap on winning as if it was right around the corner even, when her body language said otherwise.

To watch Tui Unga go about the opening of spring drills at the University of Hawaii has been to glimpse a lot of what you think a tight end should be.

Last year, in the midst of a 16-35 season gone quickly sour, fulfilling ticket requests was the least of University of Hawaii baseball coach Mike Trapasso's problems. Now?

Quarterback Taylor Graham was asked, time and again, about his health as spring practice opened at the University of Hawaii.

University of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow says it is hard to put a price on the considerable experience that the newest assistant, Wayne Moses, brings to the Rainbow Warriors.

The University of Hawaii men's basketball team chases victory No. 20 Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center -- and a lot more, if you are coach Gib Arnold.

Early last fall when a visitor noted the life-sized mannequin in the display window of the campus Duck Store modeling his popular No. 8 jersey, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota lowered his head, humbly.

The picture took some getting used to and it wasn't the quality of the video streamed from Chris Petersen's Seattle press conference. No amount of fiddling could make up for -- get this -- Petersen in a purple sweater.

It hasn't been easy to be a San Francisco Giants fan in Hawaii these past few seasons, even with two World Series banners. But this year it is getting more frustrating for the enduring faithful.

Last season, debuting University of Hawaii women's basketball coach Laura Beeman probably deserved to be the coach of the year in the Big West Conference. This season she looks to be doing an even better job.

A while back Kansas State's Bill Snyder offered rookie head coach Norm Chow some sage advice on a key part of turning around a struggling program.

A little more than a month ago, the prospect of another letter from the NCAA regarding the Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex would have sent shivers through the University of Hawaii administration from Hawaii Hall to the quarry. Today, UH officials await one, hopefully.

The more you see the University of Hawaii men's basketball team succumb to the top teams in the Big West Conference, the more you have to wonder if the Rainbow Warriors are being betrayed by their choice of nonconference schedule.

This is a big game for the University of Hawaii -- not just because the Rainbow Warriors figure to be staring up at 7-foot, 6-inch Mamadou Ndiaye all night.

You need only look at the University of Hawaii's future nonconference schedules to see where the Rainbow Warriors line up in college football's hottest debate of the moment -- the proposed defensive substitution rule.

Every day of quarterback Max Wittek’s high school football career at Mater Dei brought him face to face with Colt Brennan. Never mind that they played at the Santa Ana, Calif., football powerhouse billed as “Quarterback High” nine years apart, the reminders were frequent and hard to miss.

On the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 2012, three Miami Dolphins offensive linemen "jokingly threatened to harm" an assistant trainer of Japanese ancestry "in retaliation for Pearl Harbor."

The visitor's roster featured first baseman Mark McGwire, who would lead college baseball in home runs, and imposing 6-foot, 10-inch pitcher Randy Johnson, who led the nation in making batters nervous.

At the NFL Draft combine this month, teams will time Missouri defensive lineman Michael Sam in the 40-yard dash, measure his vertical leap, assess his agility and check his blood pressure. But make no mistake, it will be the NFL that will really be tested.

Beating the University of Hawaii has apparently been a whole lot easier for Joe Callero than explaining his growing mastery of the Rainbow Warriors. Callero is the head basketball coach at Cal Poly and he has had UH’s number, which, right now, is a head-shaking 5-0.

Like a kindergarten teacher, athletic director Ben Jay will sit down and essentially write report cards for each of the 14 University of Hawaii head coaches whose contracts he is recommending for extensions.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Saint Louis School admitted brothers Tommy and Ron Lee, but not their younger sibling, Cal. It would not be the last the school saw of Cal, however.

When rumors that Reggie Theus might become the basketball head coach swept the Cal State Northridge campus last spring, it was: Gentlemen, start your search engines.

Decades ago, prescient NCAA leader Walter Byers foresaw that college athletes might not be content with just tuition, books, room and board in exchange for their labors and would come looking for — shudder — compensation or a voice in association affairs.

In golf they call it "moving day," that critical point at which fortunes either rise prominently or fall precipitously on the tournament leaderboard.

Quarterback Philip Rivers said his fifth Pro Bowl Sunday "felt a lot different" from the first four. "This is the first time I got touched," Rivers admitted, smiling. Not only touched, but really pressured and, get this, even sacked.

Of the 88 players in the NFL Pro Bowl, it would be hard to find one relishing the entirety of the experience more than Indianapolis' Matt Overton.

The gathering of about 1,000 on the beach at Lanikuhonua applauded as Cam Newton's selection was announced at Wednesday's NFL Pro Bowl draft, drowning out the waves pounding the Leeward Coast.

When Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy was selected to the Pro Bowl, he offered a prayer. Eagles quarterback Nick Foles thanked the fans. But when teammate Evan Mathis got his invitation to Sunday's Pro Bowl, he ... called off Tonya Harding?

Invariably before the morning sun could peek into Manoa or teammates and coaches trudged up the hill, a solitary figure could be seen on the dew-dampened University of Hawaii football practice field painstakingly catching passes from an automatic machine.

On the way to clearing out his locker this week after 13 years on the University of Texas football coaching staff, Duane Akina was asked what looms next.

It is way too early to be alarmed about the University of Hawaii men's basketball team's fortunes in Big West Conferences. Or, is it?

Brian Stuard first glimpsed the Waialae Country Club golf course and the Sony Open in Hawaii as a wide-eyed high schooler from in front of the family television in Jackson, Mich.

Oklahoma State, Georgia and Wake Forest have been known to turn out PGA Tour golfers as if on assembly lines.

Officially, it is known as Bachman Hall, the administrative headquarters of the University of Hawaii system. Unofficially, it has a reputation as a black hole, the labyrinthine ivory tower at University Avenue and Dole Street where contracts have been known to disappear for months, if not die slow deaths altogether.

It was altogether fitting that when University of Nebraska-Omaha guard CJ Carter's last-gasp shot missed the basket, it was Isaac Fotu who hauled in the rebound and gave the ball a high, jubilant toss at the final buzzer.

If there was a team that deserved to put up its sneakers, kick back and relax a little during this holiday season, it was the University of Hawaii women's basketball team.

As the University of Hawaii men's basketball team heads into 2014, guard Garrett Nevels served up a vivid reminder why it is a new year in more ways than one for these Rainbow Warriors.

As much as he might grimace when his fractured right hand takes a hard blow, there is apparently something more painful for the University of Hawaii forward Isaac Fotu.

They wore the familiar blue and white uniforms and ran out of the locker room labeled "Boise State," but this was not the Broncos football team we're used to seeing at Aloha Stadium.

By all reports, Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks are enjoying their time in the islands this week — and that’s too bad.

This is where it finally starts to get interesting for the University of Hawaii men's basketball team. After whipping up on the folks from the Big Sky, Pac-West, Southland and Ohio Valley conferences (average margin of victory 24.2 points), the Rainbow Warriors (7-2) wade into the promise of some stiffer competition in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Job One in the University of Hawaii athletic department right now, athletic director Ben Jay pledged to a Board of Regents committee Wednesday, is meeting fiscal guidelines imposed by the Manoa Chancellor's office.

Devon Kell walked on at Oregon State, but the Beavers are giving him a memorable ride home today. Five years and 51 pounds after he set out from Hilo devoid of any major college football scholarship offers, Kell returns today a compensated mainstay of the defensive line and poster player for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl-bound Beavers.

When he was 16 years old, David Matlin stood in a television truck in Detroit and told the astonished ABC production crew that the sportscaster on the air, Howard Cosell, was wrong.

Leon Rice knew about the blue turf, the Bowl Championship Series appearances, the well-stuffed football trophy case and all the rest when he took the men's basketball coaching job at Boise State.

When University of Hawaii volleyball coach Dave Shoji says he appreciates the animated students who show up at Rainbow Wahine matches, he isn’t just mouthing empty platitudes from the coaches’ handbook.

When the Big West Conference reopened its membership doors to the University of Hawaii in 2012, it was the league’s volleyball faithful who did most of the celebrating.

Once upon a not-so-distant time as an offensive coordinator, Norm Chow made a comfortable living picking on defensive coordinators.

On senior night, as the lei began at Sean Schroeder's shoulder pads and rose from there, University of Hawaii coach Norm Chow flashed back to a far different place and time.

With 15 minutes left in the game Friday night University of Hawaii guard Brandon Spearman crouched down near midcourt, looked his adversary in the eyes and slapped the Stan Sheriff Center floor resoundingly.

Army head football coach and University of Hawaii alum Rich Ellerson talked the other day about how familiar everything will be in a return to Aloha Stadium Saturday

From an office that overlooks West Point's 89-year-old Michie Stadium, head football coach Rich Ellerson sits amid reminders of Army's rich history. But tucked in among the memorabilia, he will tell you proudly, is a game ball close to his heart that speaks to his past.

LARAMIE, Wyo. » That the University of Hawaii had running back Joey Iosefa pounding away on fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line in overtime Saturday told you a lot about why the Rainbow Warriors are 0-11.

LARAMIE, Wyo. » If only it can be heard above their chattering teeth in the sub-freezing weather, opportunity knocks for the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors today.

At Ohio State they tell a story about the time a 50-something Ben Jay charged out like a pulling guard to “protect” a Buckeye football player on campus.

When Jamie Holmes taught her intermediate volleyball class at UC Davis on Oct. 29, there was undoubtedly a little more poignancy to the lecture for her nearly 40 students.

Things have been tough for a University of Wyoming football team of late, and the sign above the First Interstate Bank building in downtown Laramie, Wyo., this week isn't inspiring any cheer, either. That's where the temperatures are posted in neon numerals.

It was retro night at Aloha Stadium all right, but not in the way the long-suffering University of Hawaii football fans had hoped.

After what could be their Ohio Valley Conference championship-clinching victory today, the Charleston, Ill., chapter of the University of Hawaii football alumni association, better known as members of the Eastern Illinois University coaching staff, will gather around the TV tonight.

Quarterback Sean Schroeder’s first entry into the University of Hawaii football record book came for passing accuracy. But that’s only because there isn’t yet a category among its pages for tenacity.

At 0-9 and desperate to avert an 0-12 finish, it is time for the University of Hawaii to roll up its collective sleeves and really get creative this week.

It took guard Garrett Nevels all of 1 minute and 23 seconds to introduce himself at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday night. About as fast as you could say Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic, Nevels propelled the University of Hawaii to a 5-0 lead en route to an eventual 85-55 thumping of Tennessee State in the season opener.

For several weeks Mariota has been the betting favorite, but as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel showed last year and Baylor’s Robert Griffin III illustrated the year before, November is where the most prestigious award in college athletics is secured.

Whether you consider it good news or bad, University of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

When the University of Hawaii women's volleyball team returns to play Friday night, it will be in a suddenly emboldened, no longer cowering Big West Conference.

While the winless University of Hawaii football team focuses on trying to escape its division cellar in the Mountain West Conference, it has more than a rooting interest in who wins the championship.

When UCLA linebacker Jordan Zumwalt launched himself at an out-of-bounds Marcus Mariota like a heat-seeking missile Saturday, the Oregon quarterback had some quick words for the officials.

The player in green was so happy that he signed autographs, posed for pictures and, in the euphoria of the moment, even flung his gloves into the stands despite a warning.

University of Hawaii football coach Norm Chow, hands pressed on his hips, looked up at the numbers illuminated on the Sam Boyd Stadium scoreboard — Nevada-Las Vegas 39, Hawaii 37 — and stared as though if he glared at them long enough and hard enough they might change.

LAS VEGAS >> These days the University of Nevada-Las Vegas football team is being held up as the poster child for the practice of patience among downtrodden mid-majors.

Generally, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota prefers to let the Heisman Trophy talk and speculation go in one earhole of his helmet and out the other. "It's just outside noise," Mariota likes to say.

On Saturday, Carissa Moore hoisted two gleaming trophies on Guincho Beach in Portugal, representing her triumphant ascent back atop the world of women's pro surfing.

Well, this time the University of Hawaii fans -- what there were of them, anyway -- did stick around at Aloha Stadium. But the football team was another matter. A matter of growing concern, as it turned out.

Welcome to the 2013 Rainbow Warriors football season, where you never know, from one game to the next, whether you’ll be flirting with a record pace for fame or keeping pace with a standard for futility.

This afternoon David Fales makes the trip to Hawaii he thought he might never experience. "I'm definitely looking forward to it (the trip)," Fales said. "It has been a long journey."

There is, as they like to say, an unwritten rule in football that a player shouldn't lose his starting job because of an injury.

On a rainy night they stood at their seats and cheered longer, lustier and later than they had in years at a University of Hawaii football game.

Remember when visiting football coaches would regularly bemoan the rigors of travel to Honolulu — before even getting on a plane to play the University of Hawaii?

Last year the Air Force Academy resurrected, from the dust deep in one of its trophy cases, the Gen. Laurence S. Kuter Trophy that goes to the winner of the Hawaii-Air Force football game.

The way the University of Hawaii football team limped home from Nevada on Saturday, it would have been hard to justify adding a school-record seventh road game to the schedule.

Days after graduating from Roosevelt High, Mike Lum signed a pro contract with the then-Milwaukee Braves and found himself in sweltering Waycross, Ga., 17 years old and his head spinning.

While the University of Hawaii ponders whether to accept an offer to play an additional football game at Colorado next month, here's something to chew on:

Newly expanded to 12 teams, this is the biggest alignment the Mountain West Conference has ever had for football. But bigger sure hasn’t meant better, so far, for a conference that is taking its nonconference lumps regularly in 2013.

Don Robbs is 76 years old, yet these days find him driven to get in shape for a University of Hawaii baseball season opener five months hence. In this task he is as determined as any walk-on candidate for a UH roster spot a quarter of his age.

The University of Hawaii and Oregon haven’t played each other in football in 19 seasons and there is a compelling reason why they shouldn’t let the wait get much longer.

There are any number of ways to measure Dave Shoji's seismic impact on University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine volleyball.

SAN DIEGO » Manti Te'o's features grew taut as he pounded his meaty fists and pawed at the artificial turf, something he'd done hundreds of times before in preparation for a crucial fourth-down defensive stand.

The gravelly voice roars through the north end of Reser Stadium like a sonic boom. "Watch your (bleeping) feet! Get your (bleeping) butt down! Do you know what the (bleep) you are doing?"

EUGENE Ore. >> The gleaming, new $68 million Hatfield-Dowling Complex for football at the University of Oregon, replete with Brazilian hardwood floors, Ferrari leather chairs and European urinals, speaks to opulent entitlement.

Everybody knows University of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine coach Dave Shoji sits at 1,105 victories and needs just two more to surpass an old friend, ex-UCLA coach Andy Banachowski, and become the career victory leader in women’s volleyball.

Leading up to Thursday's game, USC football coach Lane Kiffin recalled how, at one point, he and Hawaii's Norm Chow used to ride to work together from Manhattan Beach to Heritage Hall when they were on the Trojans' coaching staff.

Quarterback Taylor Graham ended the University of Hawaii's football season opener the same way he started it, flat on his back on the Aloha Stadium turf looking up.

Over dinner at Wo Fat's restaurant in Chinatown in 1978, USC football coach John Robinson declared, "we're here to have a good time," and pledged to spread the fun among most of the 96 players the Trojans had brought for the next day's game against Hawaii.

When the Baldwin High class of 1963 gathered for its 50th reunion Saturday on Maui, some of the nearly 100 attendees hadn’t seen each other since graduation.

As the lanky teenager with the curious leg kick to his unorthodox batting form for the Hilo Stars of Hawaii Winter Baseball, it was hard to know what to make of Ichiro Suzuki in 1993.

Is it more amazing that the NCAA did right by one of its flock or that it took the comma parsers at headquarters in Indianapolis a week to awaken to it?

Should gubernatorial candidate Rep. David Ige be allowed to speak about the Democratic Party’s platform progress at its convention?
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