Ferd's Words Warriors need the right fit more than a big name By Ferd Lewis Dec. 17, 2011 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. As the University of Hawaii’s search for a new head football coach rolls toward Week 3 and more of the candidates’ names emerge, some Warriors fans are finally beginning to get a reality check. Or, as one follower apoplectically put it: “What do you mean no Jon Gruden?” Sadly, but hardly surprisingly, Bill Belichick isn’t leaping at the opportunity to replace Greg McMackin either. Pete Carroll’s application didn’t get lost in the mail. And Steve Sarkisian’s wife isn’t yanking him back to the family home in Manoa. Frankly, the Warriors are fortunate to entertain some of the candidates they have. If they aren’t exactly marquee names, well, that’s a fact of life as a so-called mid-major program. Especially one 2,500 miles off the beaten path without a bunch of oil wells — or the kind of boosters who own them. Which is part of what made the clamor for the colorful, pirate-centric Mike Leach so curious when it became apparent that McMackin was on his way out the door. There was no way UH was going to be able to put together a package to interest Leach unless it gave him the ship from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and promised the lead role in the next installment. Not when Leach commanded $2.25 million from Washington State a few days later. Of course, a year ago, Wazzu wouldn’t have been able to offer even half that amount, either. But the Pac-12’s new lucrative TV contract, from which each member will average about $18 million a year, has changed that. Meanwhile, UH, with red ink on its books, a shrinking fan base and an uncertain TV-rights future, is browsing the discount aisle. Not unlike rival Fresno State, which announced it will shell out $650,000 for its new coach, well-traveled former assistant Tim DeRuyter. And it is a lot cheaper to live — and win — in Fresno. As a West Coast agent whose firm represents several coaches put it, “Hawaii is a different situation.” What he meant is that UH is a destination job, not a steppingstone. Few coaches looking to make a big score or scamper up the career ladder find their way here. The Todd Grahams of the coaching profession don’t pit stop here. Only two of the six head coaches in the Division I era at UH, Dick Tomey and June Jones, moved on to more lucrative positions. And both invested a decade here first and retained residences. Jones, in many ways, is responsible for giving rise to heightened expectations. When he left the San Diego Chargers in 1998 for UH, the move caught a lot of imaginations. But bolting the NFL for UH and a $400,000 salary made him the rarest of exceptions, not the rule. The Nos. 2 and 3 winningest coaches in UH history — Tomey and Bob Wagner — both came from the ranks of assistants, which is where the Warriors are most likely to find their next coach. Tomey, a UCLA assistant, wasn’t even the top choice at the time, with at least four others turning UH down. And Wagner was the in-house, longtime assistant. But both were prime builders of the program, took it to milestones and ended up in the school’s Circle of Honor. UH doesn’t necessarily need a “name” to replace McMackin; it just needs the right fit. Reach Ferd Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 529-4820. Previous Story Lessons to remember at UH when selecting new coach Next Story Could Chow and UH finally connect this time around?