RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Nevada defensive backs coach Kim McCloud was a cornerback at UH, lettering from 1987 to 1990.
McCloud a versatile assistant
The former UH defensive back coaches Nevada's DBs, but spent last year with the Pack's wideouts
NEARLY 15 years after graduation, Kim McCloud remains a loyal Hawaii football fan.
"All I care about is them losing one game a year," the former UH cornerback said. "They can beat everybody else, and I still have pride in what they do."
And McCloud is specific about who that one loss must be against, since he is the defensive backs coach at Nevada.
McCloud spoke at Aloha Stadium yesterday, as Nevada got ready to start its first Hawaii Bowl practice. UCF plays the Wolf Pack on Saturday.
"It's always nostalgic driving up to the stadium, seeing all the greenery, that's always good," said McCloud, who lived here two more years after he finished playing at UH and two seasons in the CFL.
"The field's better now," he said, toeing the FieldTurf surface. "Better than the AstroTurf I played on. But same stadium, same memories."
McCloud lettered from 1987 to 1990. He started the last three years and UH went 25-11. That was a nickname change and about eight different Hawaii uniforms ago.
"The kids make fun of me all the time, but to me its still the 'Bows even though I know they go by the Warriors now," McCloud said. "I was a 'Bow."
Then he was a Tiger (grad assistant at Missouri) and a Vandal (assistant at Idaho), helping both schools to bowl games.
He's been a part of the staff for six years, surviving a tumultuous head coaching change after the 2003 season when Chris Tormey was fired and Chris Ault stepped down from athletic director to the job he held twice before.
Ault decided McCloud was worth keeping around -- and moving around. McCloud coached the cornerbacks the first four years, handled the wideouts in 2004, and was moved back to the corners last fall.
"He did a heckuva job for me at receivers coach last year," Ault said. "Kim's a football coach. That's about as good a compliment as I can give somebody, when I move him from one side of the ball to the other side of the ball and have confidence in him to get the job done.
"We were a young defensive secondary this year and I was concerned about it and we were putting in a new defensive scheme and to me it was critical we had another set of eyes, especially for those DBs."
McCloud said his year on the other side of the line made him a better defensive coach.
"It was kind of eye-opening," he said. "It gives you a better idea of how teams look at you offensively and how they want to attack you. I'd only seen one side of the ball. Defensively is kind of a natural home, so that was an easy transition back."
McCloud's corners will try to stop Golden Knights receivers coached by D.J. McCarthy. McCarthy is who McCloud replaced as Nevada receivers coach two years ago, and McCloud considers him a good friend.
Junior cornerback Joe Garcia has thrived under McCloud's tutelage. He led the WAC with four interceptions this season.
"He's been a great coach. He's a big reason I came to this school. I like him a lot as a coach," said Garcia, a former UCLA recruit who transferred from Long Beach Community College. "We look at a lot of film together and he helps me make better reads."
All-WAC receiver Caleb Spencer, a Kamehameha graduate, liked having a coach with a Hawaii tie.
"He's intense when he needs to be," Spencer said. "Other than that, he has the laid-back style like us locals do. He gave us a lot of perspective on what DBs' tendencies are."
McCloud will spend some time this week with former teammates like Kenny Harper and Joe Onosai. Although it's a dead week for recruiting, McCloud will also talk to some local high school coaches about players Nevada is interested in.
"It's a good opportunity from that point of view, but we can't contact them and talk to them in person," he said.
McCloud met his wife, Renee, at UH. They have two children, Kaleb and Rachel.
"We were coming anyway, so this is a real good opportunity from that point of view," McCloud said. "When you get to fly home for free, that's always good."
He's a draw: Nevada is technically the visiting team, but Spencer will have the largest individual cheering section.
"I think I've got about 170 people to get tickets for," he said.
Old pals: Hawaii coach June Jones dropped by the UCF practice at UH yesterday. He chatted with Golden Knights coach George O'Leary, a friend from when Jones coached the Atlanta Falcons and O'Leary was at Georgia Tech.