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‘Mouse’ back in Warriors’ house

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In an attempt to rebuild the offense, the University of Hawaii football team is summoning the architect.

Darrel "Mouse" Davis, 77, credited as the designer of the modern run-and-shoot offense, is expected to rejoin the Warriors’ coaching staff, according to people familiar with the situation.

Although his job title will be assistant coach in charge of receivers, Davis’ primary function will be to serve as mentor to first-year offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich. Rolovich, a record-setting passer for the Warriors in 2001, was UH’s quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. For the final 12 games of 2009, Rolovich called the offensive plays, taking over those duties from offensive coordinator Ron Lee.

"The university is very fortunate to get a guy of Mouse’s caliber," said Lee, who resigned this month after 11 years as a UH assistant coach. "He’s great with the players. He’s got so much knowledge. They’re getting the architect."

UH head coach Greg McMackin and Davis yesterday declined to comment on the situation.

But Davis acknowledged he was in town to interview for the position. A news conference is expected this afternoon.

Darrel "Mouse" Davis:
Was assistant coach under
June Jones from 2004 to 2006

Earlier this week, Davis said he looked forward to the opportunity to return to UH, where he was an assistant coach from 2004 through 2006.

In 2006, the Warriors averaged 559.2 yards and 46.9 points per game. That year, Colt Brennan set the NCAA record for pass efficiency.

In 2007, Davis accepted the offensive coordinator’s job at Portland State. Jerry Glanville, who was UH’s defensive coordinator in 2005 and 2006, was named the Vikings’ head coach in 2007.

After the 2008 season, in a dispute over the offensive philosophy, Davis and Glanville parted ways. Davis was enjoying retirement, making occasional appearances at football clinics, before learning of the UH opening.

Lee had decided in February to resign from the UH coaching staff. But McMackin encouraged Lee to hold off on an announcement until after spring training. Lee announced his resignation last month.

The application deadline was last week, and a screening committee – whose members included McMackin and Rolovich – narrowed the list to four finalists.

Davis had the most impressive resume. He was an assistant coach for the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons. He also was head coach in four professional leagues – the Denver Gold of the U.S. Football League, New York/New Jersey Knights of the World League of American Football, Detroit Fury of the Arena Football League and San Diego Rip Tide of AF2.

Through his travels, his ID was a four-wide passing attack.

Davis’ offense was rooted in a strategy created by Glenn "Tiger" Ellison, a high school coach from Middleton, Ohio. The scheme called for four receivers and one back instead of the usual two-receiver formation.

Davis modified the scheme to feature mostly passes. That enabled his teams to employ smaller slot receivers, expanding his recruiting base.

In 1975, Davis implemented his offense at Portland State, where June Jones, who transferred from UH, became a record-setting quarterback. Davis and Jones were teamed in the NFL and USFL. In December 1998, Jones, who used a modified version of Davis’ run-and-shoot offense, accepted the UH head coaching job.

Jones often consulted with Davis, who attended many of the Warriors’ road games. In 2005, Jones hired Davis.

But three decades before that, Davis had become a familiar name in Hawaii.

Until the mid-1970s, Lee recalled, "everybody used the I formation."

Lee, who experimented with a one-back formation as Kalani High’s coach, was invited to attend Portland State’s spring practice in 1975. Later, as Kaiser High’s head coach, Lee’s four-wide offense helped set several passing records. The Cougars won the 1979 Oahu Prep Bowl.

Lee and his brother, Cal Lee, used the offense to help Saint Louis School dominate high school football for nearly two decades.

"It all started with that offense," Ron Lee said. "Everybody was running the ball back then. We didn’t have any personnel, and (the run-and-shoot) gave us a chance. Now everybody is using Mouse’s offense."

 

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For more Hawaii football, visit the Warrior Beat blog.

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