Tuesday, September 17, 2002
UH must go onJason Whieldon wouldn't say why he left the Hawaii football team. He doesn't want anyone to know. He did say that it had nothing to do with football, that he loved his teammates and that "it was probably the toughest decision I ever made."
The quarterback left the team
to take care of personal matters
UH coaches said that the quarterback's choice was not a rushed, last-second decision. And it wasn't a surprise.
"I think it's been two months in coming," June Jones said yesterday.
Despite Whieldon's encouraging play on the field for the Warriors -- he subbed for starter Tim Chang in goal-line and short-yardage situations, and passed for two touchdowns against BYU on Sept. 6 -- he felt he had to return to his family's home in Orange, Calif., to attend to intensely personal matters he said were more important than football.
"Just some things are bigger than words," Whieldon said.
Said UH quarterbacks coach Dan Morrison: "Well, we knew he had some things back home he was dealing with. And it just got to the point where he had a hard time, you know, being here with things back there."
Whieldon missed team functions last week during UH's bye to be with his family on the mainland. He opted not to return.
Jones said he had a long talk with the junior transfer from Saddleback College on Thursday. Whieldon's mind was all but made up at that point, but the coach had him think on it a little more.
"It sounded like that was going to be his decision, but I told him he'd better not make it while he was emotional, and try to make sure he makes the right one," Jones said.
Senior Shawn Withy-Allen becomes the backup quarterback for this week's game at Texas-El Paso. Jones said Withy-Allen's role will be similar to Whieldon's -- but if Chang is able to take a direct snap from center, that role would have been reduced no matter who was No. 2.
Chang, recovering from a broken pinkie on his throwing hand suffered in training camp, did not take direct snaps in yesterday's practice. "But we think that he can," Jones said. "He doesn't have any pain in his finger, so unless he takes a crooked snap or something he's going to be fine."
Jones and Morrison expressed confidence in Withy-Allen's ability to run Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense.
Withy-Allen, though eager for his chance, has conflicting emotions about Whieldon's decision.
"I knew about it for a while," Withy-Allen said. "He's my roommate. It wasn't like a guarantee, but we kind of talked about it."
He knew it might be coming, but Withy-Allen was still taken aback that Whieldon was troubled enough to leave the team.
"It was nothing you could see right off the bat," Withy-Allen said. "It definitely didn't affect his play, because he was playing real well."
Whieldon stressed his reason for leaving had nothing to do with his playing situation.
"I felt like part of the team and I loved all the guys I played with," he said. "I felt like they were my brothers.
"I felt like I was leaving family and I felt terrible about it."
When asked if Whieldon's decision was permanent, Jones said, "That's what it sounds like right at this moment, yeah."
Jones said Whieldon's departure shouldn't have too significant an impact on Hawaii's season. He compared the situation to losing a player for the rest of the season due to any other cause.
"I would say it's like anything else," Jones said. "You get an injury, a guy's gone. And that's the way football is. You just roll with it, the next guy tees it up, another star is born."
Whieldon's passing stats
Att Com Int Yds TD Aug. 31 vs. Eastern Illinois 10 5 0 79 1 Sept. 6 vs. Brigham Young 3 2 0 7 2 Two game totals: 13 7 0 86 3
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