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Coaching shuffle shows McMackin’s urgency to win

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The old line about how you can’t tell the players without a program also apparently holds true for the University of Hawaii football coaching staff.

Any resemblance between head coach Greg McMackin’s first UH coaching lineup in 2008 and the one that will take the field (and booth) in 68 days for the season opener against Southern California on Sept. 2 is both coincidental and fleeting.

With the announced addition of Darrel "Mouse" Davis yesterday to fill the last assistant coaching vacancy, only one of the original nine assistants has not significantly changed titles or mailing addresses in the interim.

No word if the one holdout, Rich Miano, is nervous.

But the wholesale change does paint a picture of the urgency McMackin faces in turning around the Warriors’ fortunes heading into this, his third season.

After a 13-14 record two years into his reign at UH, neither McMackin nor the athletic department the football team underwrites can afford mediocrity this season. It is very much bowl game or bust for all concerned.

And with the schedule front-loaded in degree of difficulty thanks to USC and road stops at Army and Colorado in the first month, there will be precious little time to waste.

Which is a large part of why, you suspect, McMackin has so thoroughly shuffled this deck. In a manner of months he has installed new offensive and defensive coordinators and a defensive line coach. In two years the offensive line, defensive line and coordinators have all been changed.

Keep in mind that the staff, from the beginning, was all hand-picked by McMackin, who was not obligated to take on anyone he didn’t want. He made a point of saying when he came on board that he would only hire people he had worked with or known.

To this point the hirings have made for a mixed bag, as the comings and goings – and the record – suggest. And the Warriors need to win.

The choice of Davis, at age 77, is an indication of that urgency. Ostensibly Davis fills the slot of Ron Lee as receivers coach. More accurately, he is tasked to be a mentor in residence. Not a fixture for years to come, but an immediate resource and handy CliffsNotes for promising, but inexperienced, offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich.

In elevating Rolovich from quarterbacks coach, McMackin made a bold move. But there is also the recognition that with just two years of full-time coaching experience at the Division I level, Rolovich, even for somebody who has been a quick study and has played in the offense, could use mentoring and a veteran sounding board in calling plays and game-planning.

And, when it comes to the intricacies of the run-and-shoot, if June Jones isn’t available, who better to call on than one of the offense’s prime architects?

Davis, who developed the run-and-shoot into a record-setting college offense 40 years ago at Portland State and has taken it beyond since, is certainly that.

Barring the unexpected, Davis is the last of McMackin’s hires before the start of the season. And, with all UH has riding on it this year, it would be good if Davis was the final piece to a solving the puzzle of a winning Warriors team.

Reach Ferd Lewis at


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