Kalani Simpson

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Cav’s exit is sadder
than expected

THIS one is a tough one. This one is a little bit sad.

In a strange way, I had always looked forward to saying goodbye to Mike Cavanaugh. It would have been a happy thing.

Oh, I'd miss him. We all would. But it would have meant he'd finally made it, that we'd have seen that rare and wonderful sight: a man fulfilling his dream. It would have meant he was on his way to the NFL.

That's not what's happening now.

Instead, no, Hawaii's accomplished offensive line coach, everybody's favorite sitcom character come to life, is headed to Oregon State.

And you can list all your "on paper" reasons for the move, and there's no argument against any of them. A bigger conference, a move up, more cash. Sure. Any other college assistant would have done the same.

Even leaving paradise for the wilderness of Corvallis, Ore.?

"Cav doesn't care about beaches and chicks," one wag said.

Good comeback. No, that's true. He's an offensive line coach all the way.

So, yes, this move makes perfect sense.

Except it doesn't.

Cav is a special case. He didn't want (and obviously, he's changed his mind, in these last few days) another college job. He was headed to the pros, that's all. Until then, this place fit him perfectly. Until then, he loved it here. His family loved it here.

He was loved here.

Somehow, in these six years, he hadn't just churned out great players and tough lines. He'd also worked his way into everyone's hearts. His players loved him. Oh, how his guys loved him. Everybody did.

His hard-driving, big-laughing, tough-loving style struck a chord with people.

He had, I wrote in 2001, "intensity and pride and intelligence and life and laughter at himself."

His players loved him, and Hawaii did, too.

And he reveled in it, he loved Hawaii right back.

A few weeks ago he did a "bruddah bruddah" on me that sounded almost just right.

And the UH program, as he and Vantz Singletary have reminded us, is a special case, too. If you're looking to make that big jump from colleges to the pros, well, you can get there from here.

Yeah, the Pac-10 is bigger, better. No doubt. The money is better -- and a guy with a family can't afford not to take that into account. He's moving on up like George And Weezie. He'll have access to all the video equipment a film junkie could ever want.

As somebody said, he's off to a place where if they promise bowl bonuses, they pay them.

That must have been one of the straws. But not the last one.

This decision wasn't so simple, this one wasn't obvious and black-and-white, which was why so many of us guessed wrong. Why so many of us were shocked when we first heard the news.

Oregon State is a step up, yeah, and he'll get to the pros someday, I really believe that. But it won't be because of this move.

And yet he went.

If this was an NFL job, then yes, even with all of his accomplishments and connections, no choice. It may never happen again. This could be it. Gotta go.

This is a good opportunity.

But this wouldn't be his last chance or his best chance. This was no once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

This was just the one he happened to have in front of him, right now, today.

And he took it.

He felt he had to go. He knew it was time for him to leave.

He had to make this decision.

There's something a little sad about this one.

Aloha, Coach Cav.

I always thought congratulating you on your new job would feel a lot better than this.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at ksimpson@starbulletin.com

E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- http://archives.starbulletin.com