UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII FOOTBALL
Facilities fight continues with Brennan in the ranks
UH's Heisman Trophy candidate has no regrets about sounding off, and June Jones is proud of his quarterback
The fight for more resources and better facilities is not a new one for Hawaii football coach June Jones. He's been waging it since he returned to Manoa in 1999. And his predecessors, Fred vonAppen and Bob Wagner weren't shy about asking for what they felt was the minimum needed to compete in Division I.
That didn't mean they got what they needed.
Things became so bad that some felt UH should step down a level during vonAppen's three-year tenure that included five wins and 31 losses.
Now Jones has a new, vocal ally: quarterback Colt Brennan.
Apparently, people listen when Heisman Trophy candidates talk. Brennan voiced his opinion about conditions at UH in a newspaper article two weeks ago and got the attention of the community in Hawaii and the media on the mainland.
One group was supportive, the other not so much.
And although he's been labeled a whiner by a few people, Brennan said yesterday he has no regrets.
"Think about the difference already. We've got soap dispensers, donated. A year's supply of soap, donated. The whole community's been great. The whole reaction from the people who matter, teachers and students, make me feel good about what I did," Brennan said.
Yesterday, Jones said he is proud of Brennan's willingness to speak out.
The coach also talked about a renewed effort to secure donations for scholarship endowments, especially from former Warriors now in the NFL.
Warriors renew efforts for scholarship endowments
Hawaii football coach June Jones said UH is expanding efforts to secure monetary donations that go directly toward football scholarships, especially from former players who have advanced to the NFL.
"Some of the players are putting that in their contracts," UH coach Jones said. "We're in the process of setting up a fund like USC and a lot of the other major schools do, scholarship endowments."
Ten Warriors from the 2006 team were either drafted or signed NFL free-agent contracts since the draft last month. Ten others are NFL veterans who will likely be on rosters this fall.
"We've talked to all of them and we're all waiting for it to be put in place," Jones said. "Pretty much all the players and their agents are in the mode of doing that."
Vince Baldemor, president of Ahahui Koa Anuenue, the UH booster club, said the opportunity to donate toward endowments has always been available. UH is focusing more on football-specific donations after last year's 11-3 season that ended with a No. 24 ranking.
"It's a concerted effort that's still in development now," Baldemor said.
Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy candidate, will likely be one of the first quarterbacks drafted after next season. He said Warrior alumni might be more inclined to donate when they know the money is going directly to scholarships for football players.
"Obviously I'm far away from that and I've got to worry about my senior year and I don't have any money yet. But if I get in that position I would be thrilled to do it," Brennan said. "I plan on giving back to Hawaii financially, and I'm excited about something where I know the money would be going where I want it."
Brennan expressed displeasure with UH's facilities in a newspaper article two weeks ago. The story spread nationally.
Jones said yesterday he does not think the story will hurt recruiting.
"Any publicity is positive. Colt's one of the greatest kids I've ever been around. The message he was trying to send was a positive one. I'm proud of him for voicing what he said," Jones said at the Honolulu Quarterback Club. "No one ever comes because of the facilities. They come because of the people, the place, the ohana. That's why I came back," Jones said. "Everything (Brennan) says is going to be magnified and he has to learn to live with that."
At various times in his eight years as Hawaii coach, Jones has also noted that UH is behind much of its competition in facilities.
"We've had this discussion many times before," Jones said yesterday. "We have upgraded, but we have a long way to go."
Brennan said he has received positive reaction from UH teammates, coaches, students and teachers and others in the community for talking about facility problems.
Other reaction, particularly from some mainland media outlets, hasn't been as positive, depicting Brennan as a whiner for complaining about broken soap dispensers and parking tickets.
"It was never about me. I wanted to speak up for people who can't speak up. I don't have a complaint about Hawaii. The school and everybody there has been great to me. But I know I have a political presence and I thought I could help the situation, especially for my teammates and future players. Hawaii's treated me like a prince, a son," he said. "The community reaction has been great, the best you could expect. I'm just happy that people are willing to make a difference, making donations. I wanted to bring some light to what is holding Hawaii back."
Brennan is at his home in Irvine, Calif. He returns to Hawaii on Sunday to start summer school Monday.
"I can get some courses out of the way that will help me graduate in the fall (in communications)," Brennan said.
Later this summer he will work as a counselor at two football camps. The Elite 11 camp in the Laguna Beach, Calif., area is for the top 11 high school quarterbacks in the nation. Brennan is one of 11 top college quarterbacks, including Louisville's Jeff Brohm and USC's Josh Booty, serving as counselors. Brennan is also scheduled to work a camp on the North Shore this summer.