Sunday, December 21, 2014         

Ferd's Words Premium

Gov. David Ige is scheduled to send his executive budget to the Legislature on Monday and unless the University of Hawaii alum is overflowing with Christmas spirit, it could portend a bleak year for the school's struggling athletic department.

Their nickname is the "Owls" and the last time the Rice University football team appeared in Aloha Stadium it seemed as much an endangered species as its Texas neighbor, the Mexican spotted owl.

In University of Hawaii basketball terms, the definition of "never" is apparently 32 years. We know this because the last time the Rainbow Warriors played Chaminade in Blaisdell Center UH officials tersely vowed to "never play Chaminade here again."

The school announces the resignation of athletic director Ben Jay Dec. 11, and not only hadn't posted the opening as of Wednesday, it still has no announced target date or process by which to name a successor?

If this is Saturday, and you are Marcus Mariota then this must be ... New York? Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Thursday night to pick up the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and Maxwell Award as the College Football Player of the Year, Walter Camp Player of the Year. ...

An announcement of an athletic director search process by January? A new AD selected by mid-2015? Please tell me here we DON'T go again. The first thing that should be evident about the University of Hawaii's athletic model is that it is badly broken.

Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, the University of Oregon figured it had to make a big splash in 2001 if it wanted quarterback Joey Harrington to have a shot at becoming the school's first Heisman Trophy winner.

They first met on the Saint Louis School football field up on Kalaepohaku, where on a clear day of untethered dreams, it seems you can see forever. Maybe even glimpse the future.

The University of Hawaii football team played its latest road game in 91 years Saturday — and still showed up tardy. Not since 1923, history tells us, had the Rainbow Warriors ventured to the continent this late into the calendar.

Asked to name Fresno State's conference football rivals, senior defensive tackle Tyeler Davison thoughtfully paused before listing Nevada, Boise ... and San Jose State.

If Fresno State someday achieves its avowed goal of domination in the Mountain West Conference and a place at the higher level for its athletic program, it will not have come without ample warning.

An animated Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter, seemingly more pumped up by the second, talked in rising decibels at his Monday press conference about the joyous union of Thanksgiving and football this week.

Questions, questions, questions: UNLV coach Bobby Hauck sounded off on a handful of them on a night when his face was as red as his shirt. Such as: How could Hawaii get off the penultimate play in four seconds in a remarkable 37-35 comeback victory as time expired?

There is growing speculation that these last two Mountain West Conference football games, beginning with Saturday's Hawaii-Nevada-Las Vegas encounter, could be make or break for the head coach.

Stan Sheriff Center, Les Murakami Stadium, Clarence T. C. Ching Athletic Complex, Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex ... and (your name here) Field? You, too, might soon be able to put your name or that of a family member on a piece of University of Hawaii athletics in Manoa.

We know who made the announcement in the recent basketball firings, but the questions of the moment surround who will be calling the next shots in the University of Hawaii's turbulent athletic program

For eight games this season, freshman quarterback Kent Myers was a redshirt, and his only job on game days for Utah State was to signal in plays from the sideline. On Saturday night he got on the field for the first time.

When they knocked on his Makiki door after the 2009 season, there was little doubt what Utah State football coaches saw in Brian Suite. What the 6-foot, 3-inch, 200-pound All-State free safety from Punahou saw in the Aggies was another matter.

We don't yet know who the next men's basketball coach at the University of Hawaii will be, but we see who is willing to stand up and make some necessary calls for the Manoa campus.

Let's get this straight: Norm Chow isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Well, other than on Mountain West Conference road trips to Colorado State, San Jose State and Fresno State, of course.

Remember when the mantra for this new-hope University of Hawaii football season was enthusiastically pledged in one word? When T-shirts proclaimed it from the preseason simply as: "finish."

Nothing against University of Nevada football coach Brian Polian, you understand, but couldn't we get acerbic Chris Ault back here again? At least one more game, for old time's sake.

Nearly 40 years ago a TV commercial for a car dealer opened an NCAA can of worms that would deal the University of Hawaii men's basketball program what became, in essence, a decade-long blow.

Healthy quarterbacks, running backs and inside linebackers aren't the only people the University of Hawaii football team is running out of these days. Paying customers are also in critically short supply.

Manti Te'o no longer walks with a protective boot on his right foot or with a limp, but the pain he feels is evident. For the third time in two NFL seasons a foot injury has forced him to vacate his inside linebacker spot with the San Diego Chargers for a place in rehab.

How, you might wonder, do you lose a school-record 16 road games in a row? Well, the University of Hawaii football team packed an explanation into one painfully revealing 3-hour, 16-minute Reader's Digest version of futility Saturday night.

Inspiration surrounds San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey on a daily basis. Challenges stare at him. It all comes in the form of Marshall Faulk's grace, Ronnie Hillman's elusiveness, George Jones' acceleration ... all the Aztecs greats at the position who seemingly gaze down upon Pumphrey from the walls of the running backs' meeting room.

A glance at the conference standings for University of Hawaii football and Rainbow Wahine volleyball teams prompts a head shaking double take at the moment.

Instead of his career-best 135 yards and a first UH touchdown, the prevailing topic of public conversation has been another back, Joey Iosefa, and his blood-alcohol level early Sunday morning.

One moment University of Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey was flat on the Aloha Stadium turf writhing on an already sore back after absorbing yet another shot from a defender.

For a frenzied, nearly 20-year period (1970s-1990s) when Hawaii’s football game with Brigham Young rolled around, Thelma P. “Toby” Chow knew to brace for the inevitable.

At each home football game, one of the University of Hawaii's corporate partners is featured as the event sponsor, and the Wyoming game would seem to open some interesting possibilities.

One hundred and six years ago Ikua Purdy did the remarkable — he roped, threw and tied a steer in what reports of the time described as a 56-second blur.

Faster than they can say Jarrett Pekelo Kahanuolaokalani Solomon in Tucson, Ariz., the University of Arizona's redshirt freshman quarterback has emerged on the national scene.

When Kansas fired its football coach, Charlie Weis, Sunday, it wasn't long before the concern was felt 4,000 miles away in Manoa. Not that the University of Hawaii was a big fan of Weis, whose then-Notre Dame team administered a 49-21 thrashing to the Rainbow Warriors in the 2008 Hawaii Bowl.

Early in quarterback Marcus Mariota's stay at Oregon, coach Mark Helfrich gave him a bit of advice that has stuck like Velcro. "He told me to 'just run through all the smoke,' " Mariota said.

If there is a benefit to being the last of the Mountain West's 12 members to open conference play, it is that the University of Hawaii football team has gotten a good long look at what it will be up against when it gets there.

On paper it looked like a win-win situation for the University of Hawaii, the idea of having boosters help fund big-money coaching contracts. But. as with too many things at UH, it hasn't always gone as planned.

For years the University of Hawaii has looked to its most lucrative athletic teams to help underwrite their financially challenged brothers and sisters.

As an offensive lineman at Kailua High in the early 1960s, Bob Richardson thought Surfriders' football coach Joe Kahahawai "seemed like he was six-feet, six inches tall."

There are some jobs where, however talented you might be, convention dictates that the idea is not to be too busy. Scott Harding knows this full well because he has one of them: He is the University of Hawaii's punter.

Bless his heart, Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Clune's mantra is that his unit has to give up one less point than the Rainbow Warriors' offense scores. "If the offense scores 12, we have to hold them to 11, that's our job," Clune resolutely maintained Saturday.

Of all the black-and-gold-clad fans in Folsom Field to root for him and the University of Colorado against Hawaii on Saturday morning, defensive lineman Juda Parker knows there will be a special voice striving to be heard from section 107, row 28.

When doctors removed the kidney from Ma‘ake Kemoeatu that they would transplant to his ailing younger brother Chris they marveled at its size. "About one-and-a-half-times bigger than any other kidney I've ever put in," said Dr. Stephen Bartlett.

The words had a ring of distant familiarity to them Saturday night when Aloha Stadium public announcer Keenan Takamori intoned, "Touchdown by Yap!" Perhaps there was even a bit of nostalgia for old-timers who remember the late 1970s.

The Aloha Stadium fans might not have let coach Norm Chow get away with playing ultra conservative offense Saturday night, but the Rainbow Warriors' defense did.

Hawaii and Northern Iowa play what is commonly referred to as a "guarantee game" this evening at Aloha Stadium. Problem is, there seems to be a difference of opinion on what the term "guarantee game" means.

Twenty-one years after his death, the shadow of Stan Sheriff still looms large at Aloha Stadium. When Hawaii plays frequent Football Championship Subdivision contender Northern Iowa there Saturday it will be a match of football programs 4,035 miles and a division apart but now brought together, in part, by the memories of a man who was not only a common thread but a shaper and innovator at both.

Usually Marcus Mariota is driving a white Nissan Cube. These days the University of Oregon quarterback can also be found in the driver's seat of the just-beginning 2014 Heisman Trophy race.

One of these nights the University of Hawaii is going to win a football game again, but it probably won’t be until it stops beating itself.

What we have Saturday at Aloha Stadium just might be the University of Hawaii's best -- and last -- chance to beat Oregon State for many years to come. Never mind that the Rainbow Warriors are 10-point underdogs.

The book on University of Hawaii punter Scott Harding these days, it seems, is a dog-eared "Roget's Thesaurus." As in how many terms can opposing coaches employ in their attempts to describe the hardships that Harding, a six-year Australian Rules pro turned punter, presents for their special teams units?

The idea was for Edward "Skippa" Diaz and Rockne Freitas, two locally bred Oregon State football stars, to be honorary game captains Saturday when OSU plays the University of Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.

The chant rolled through Aloha Stadium like claps of rising thunder: "Dee-fense! Dee-fense!" For the first time in years it was again a rallying cry of the University of Hawaii football faithful, not some longshot prayer to the heavens.

Take a real good look at these first two opponents on the University of Hawaii's football schedule -- Washington today and Oregon State next week.

Holly Barker saw most of the 13 sacks that defensive lineman Hau'oli Kikaha registered for the University of Washington last season.

The mandate and, indeed, a slogan around University of Hawaii football for this year has been to "finish." After losing five games by a touchdown or less in 2013, it is a worthy goal. But the financial and emotional imperative at UH these days is for the Rainbow Warriors to start well, too.

At the start of his first meeting as chair of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents Intercollegiate Athletic Committee, Jeff Portnoy slammed the opening gavel to the table with an exuberance that caused some people to recoil.

As a young football coach, Bob Wagner initially confessed surprise at the degree of interest some other coaches on campus showed in the team's fortunes.

Contrary to what's been floating around the Twitterverse and even some mainstream mainland sports media outlets, the University of Hawaii football team isn't going anywhere in the immediate future ... except to Aloha Stadium and six venues on the continent to play football games over the next few months.

Before the first volleyball is served or football kicked off this season, the University of Hawaii is already waging fierce competition. With itself. The battleground is shirts, hats and other newly minted athletic logowear being sold at both the campus bookstore and the newly created H-Zone.

Last month the consultant hired to work with the state on the future of Aloha Stadium told a public forum that "hundreds of reports" have been compiled on the facility in its nearly 40 years.

In the past quarter-century, the University of Hawaii has gone up against three quarterbacks in season openers who were or became Heisman Trophy winners.

It seems that Dave Shoji's volleyball national coaching brethren have two messages for his coming milestone 40th season. One for the celebratory cake and one for the court: On one hand, "Congratulations!"

Luxury high-rise condos sprouting in Kakaako, taxing pensions, preschool education, the excise tax surcharge... Sure, those are among the hot-button topics of the day as voters go to the polls. But what about the compelling issues of the local sports world?

Remarkably, it was just seven years ago that the University of Hawaii was one of three non-Power Five conference teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 football polls.

Quarterback Ikaika Woolsey finished a set of plays with the University of Hawaii's No. 1 offensive unit Monday when Jeremy Higgins began to trot onto the field ... only to be summoned back.

When the two newest members of the Aloha Stadium Authority rose to be sworn in this week, chairman Charles Toguchi quipped they were his linemen, "here to protect me."

At a time when money is tight and some raises are frowned upon, imagine a boss who proposes to take a portion of her bonus bucks and share them with her assistants.

Sacking an Ohio State quarterback in front of 104,719 predominantly scarlet and gray partisans at the Horseshoe remains a moment of considerable pride for Quinlinn Ka'uakeanihinawelau Onapaliulioke Koolau Adolpho.

Even now, more than 50 years and thousands of surfboards later, Randy Rarick vividly recalls his first wide-eyed steps into a Kakaako surf shop.

The biggest stage at Paramount Studios in Hollywood wasn't reserved for shooting a movie Wednesday. But if it had been, it could have been titled "The Amazing Marcus Mariota."

Loved your insightful-as-usual annual state-of-the-Big 12 address at Monday's media day in Dallas -- right up until the point where you reached into your golf bag, took out the Big Bertha driver and started whacking the NCAA enforcement gumshoes about the head with it.

For several years now, the University of Hawaii has hung those large green "Protect This House" banners when it plays football at Aloha Stadium.

In announcing deepening budget cuts and a hiring freeze, University of Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay grimly told coaches and staff in an internal email Thursday, "Suffice to say, these next two years will not be easy."

To the surprise of nobody who has known him, SMU football coach June Jones is still rarin’ back and daring to throw deep.

Derek Jeter couldn't do it Tuesday. Neither could LeBron James while teaming up with Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irving in March. Nobody the NHL has put on the ice in years has even come close.

Marcus Mariota stepped onto the stage at the Hukilau restaurant Wednesday and uneasily eyed the expanding Downtown Athletic Club of Hawaii crowd.

It turns out that as Commissioner Bud Selig prepares to leave Major League Baseball he is grudgingly willing to leave the door slightly ajar for Pete Rose on the way out.

Commissioner Mike Slive began his annual state-of-the-Southeastern Conference address Monday in Alabama with a shout-out to his wife on their 46th wedding anniversary. Sweet and sentimental then quickly gave way to calculated and demanding.

Manti Te'o reclined in a beach chair in the middle of a large makeshift photo studio in Waipahu where sand was spread around his feet and props were arranged to give the appearance of a man on his own island.

As a 14-year-old on the way to surfing competitions at Huntington Beach, Calif., Carissa Moore would pause and inspect with awe the hand imprints of the legendary surfers pressed into the concrete along Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway.

They say that soccer star Lionel Andres Messi is so quick and nimble of foot, especially the left one, that he can dribble in circles in a phone booth. But for him the most meaningful change of direction, one that he is on the verge of with a victory in the World Cup finale Sunday, has been 13 often-arduous years in the making.

The University of Hawaii men's basketball home schedule this season is thin on marquee names but rich with marketing potential for schedule cards.

A good part of sports is about believing in the unlikely and clinging to hope in the face of long odds. In Cleveland the enduring faithful have surely had their belief heavily trampled upon and tested more than most.

When Rainbow Wahine volleyball coach Dave Shoji signed his latest deal in 2008, there was little fanfare over what became the longest contract — six years, eight months — in University of Hawaii athletic history.

At first, Haylie Shinsato saw judo only through red, tear-filled eyes. Now, she views the sport from an intensely focused perspective, and, usually, from a medalist's vantage point.

One of the ways the University of Hawaii has been attempting to boost its sagging bottom line is by encouraging fans who already have a season ticket in one sport to add or retain another one.

When parting the cobwebs of nearly 45 years of Aloha Stadium history and lore, you never know what you might find. Just like the Aloha Stadium Authority, which has been given plenty to consider by the Aloha Stadium Comprehensive Site Summary released Thursday.

In five seasons pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers, Chuck Crim enjoyed few nights off. But it wasn't until he saw his numbers etched in a bronze plaque among the first wave of players enshrined on the Brewers' Wall of Honor this month that the former University of Hawaii star realized just how rare they really were.

They say the prestigious Harton S. Semple Trophy weighs about 10 pounds. When it isn't filled to its gleaming brim with beer, that is. The trophy that is toted by a white-gloved custodian before being handed over to the winner of the U.S. Women's Open found another use Sunday night.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota became an exhibit in the landmark O'Bannon vs. NCAA antitrust case Friday. Well, not him, exactly, but his popular and highly lucrative No. 8 University of Oregon jersey.

The most compelling commercial -- in any language -- of this World Cup belongs to the Bank of Chile. It is less an advertisement than an emotional exhortation for La Roja, Chile's team, to accomplish the remarkable.

When Tony Gwynn interviewed for the baseball coaching job at San Diego State, he brought a baseball card instead of a resume. It wasn't arrogance, the Aztecs would learn, but a point of pride.

We like our sports figures to be honest and genuine in their words. We don't want them to retreat behind mindless cliches, preferring that they say what is on their minds and speak from their hearts.

A look at the 2014 World Cup, from "A" to "Z." A -- is for "La Albiceleste" or the "white and sky blue" in Spanish, Argentina's nickname from its distinctive uniforms.

Sure, March is when madness overtakes the NCAA and January is when football crowns its champion, but history tells us that June is when the foundation of college athletics tends to undergo seismic shifts.

Kenneth Mortimer's "ah-ha" sports moment as University of Hawaii president came when the 28-4 Rainbow Wahine basketball team was denied a 1993 NCAA tournament berth.

Whether the University of Nevada-Las Vegas football team beats Hawaii or not, their Nov. 22 game at Aloha Stadium has already made the Rebels winners at the bank.

Baseball is one of the few widely visible sports where the have-not schools still have a chance to contend for a championship. A slim one, but a chance nonetheless.

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