Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, December 16, 1999

R A I N B O W _ F O O T B A L L

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Former UH head coaches Bob Wagner, left, and
Dick Tomey returned with Tomey's Arizona team
to play against Hawaii last year.

Wagner wants
back as defensive

The former Hawaii head
football coach has expressed
an interest in returning
to join June Jones' staff

By Paul Arnett


Former Hawaii head coach Bob Wagner is interested in applying for the current defensive coordinator position, the Star-Bulletin learned last night.

Wagner was a finalist for the head coaching job at Texas-El Paso, but learned yesterday that Miners athletic director Bob Stull chose to hire from within. Stull, who is a close friend of Wagner's, promoted UTEP offensive coordinator Gary Nord, who was a popular choice of the players.

Currently the linebackers and special teams coach at Arizona, Wagner reportedly asked someone close to the program if Hawaii head coach June Jones would consider him for the position vacated by Greg McMackin who will leave after the Oahu Bowl to be the associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Texas Tech.

When asked last night if Wagner had applied, Jones paused a moment, smiled and said, "I've got no comment."

Jones reiterated yesterday that he is in no hurry to find a new coordinator. He said he hoped to have a coach in place by Feb. 1.

"But this is an important position to fill, so I'm not on any timetable," Jones said. "I certainly understand why Coach McMackin took the job, but we're going to miss him."

Those close to Jones believe he has a coach in mind, but he's not saying so.

"I may try to hire over the telephone," Jones said. "But if I need to, I'll fly somebody in to do the interview if they want to see what we're all about."

Wagner is well aware of what the Hawaii program is all about. For nine years, he was the head coach of the Rainbows. He was fired in 1995 by athletic director Hugh Yoshida after Hawaii finished 4-8. Wagner's career record as head coach was 58-49-3.

He led the Rainbows to two postseason appearances. Hawaii lost to Michigan State in the 1989 Aloha Bowl. The Rainbows beat Illinois to win the 1992 Holiday Bowl to culminate an 11-2 campaign.

Wagner first joined the Hawaii staff in 1977 as an assistant to coach Larry Price. He was named the defensive coordinator for the Rainbows under current Arizona head coach Dick Tomey in 1983.

His 1986 unit is the only WAC team to ever finish in the top 10 nationally in total defense. Wagner also was an outstanding special teams coach.

Wagner and current UH associate head coach George Lumpkin worked together for nearly 20 years. Wagner also coached current secondary assistant Rich Miano and knows quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison and wide receivers assistant Ron Lee.

His last staff recruited fifth-year seniors Kaulana Noa, Adrian Klemm, Andy Phillips, Chad Shrout, Daniel Ho-Ching and Tony Tuioti. All six have contributed greatly to the Rainbows' success this season.

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