CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Junior offensive lineman Keoni Steinhoff, center, went through his blocking drills during yesterday's practice.
Tomey retains Hawaii ties
STORY SUMMARY »
SAN JOSE, Calif. » It's been 20 years since Dick Tomey left Hawaii, but much of the former UH football coach's heart is still in the islands.
Hawaii (6-0, 3-0 WAC) at San Jose State (3-3, 2-0)
» Tomorrow, 2 p.m.
» Where: Spartan Stadium
» TV: ESPN
» Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
"I feel like Hawaii's home to me in many ways," Tomey, now the head coach at San Jose State, said during an interview in his office yesterday. "I've always felt that way. We're never going to lose that.
"Hawaii contributed more to who I am than any other place I ever lived," added Tomey, who was born and raised in the Midwest and also coached at UCLA and Arizona. "I feel very connected to Hawaii. Most of all to the people. The best friends we have are in Hawaii."
Tomorrow, Tomey puts sentiment behind him once again as the Spartans (3-3, 2-0 WAC) try to upend the 16th-ranked Warriors (6-0, 3-0). He said he won't try to motivate his players by telling them the game means a lot to him personally.
"Nothing," Tomey said when asked what the Spartans know of his 10 seasons at Manoa from 1977 to 1986. "They know I coached there, but they don't need to know that.
"What we're playing for has nothing to do with Hawaii. We're 2-0 (in the WAC). If we win we're in first place and we've beaten one of the teams everyone thinks has a good chance to win the championship."
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SAN JOSE STATE ATHLETICS / TERRELL LLOYD
Dick Tomey said he never had any thoughts of being a college coach. "I got into coaching because it looked like fun."
SAN JOSE, Calif. » If he isn't there already, Dick Tomey, 69, is on his way toward becoming a college football coaching icon. His 173 coaching victories put him behind only Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden and Mack Brown on the Division I-A active list. The first 63 of those wins were amassed at Hawaii, where Tomey helped usher UH into the Western Athletic Conference. After 14 seasons at Arizona, he is now in his third year at San Jose State.
Dave Reardon of the Star-Bulletin caught up with Tomey yesterday between preparations for the Spartans' game against the Warriors tomorrow.
Question: What are your thoughts on longevity in a profession with such huge turnover?
Answer: I feel fortunate that I'm in good health, I feel fortunate that I've had good jobs. I wouldn't want to be somebody that's had six different jobs.
I've worked in three great places with a lot of great coaches and players with great people and great places to live. Obviously you have to have a certain amount of success to keep your job, and I feel fortunate for that, as well.
Q: Do you have any advice for young coaches getting into the business.
A: I got in to be an assistant high school coach. I didn't think about being a college coach or a head coach or anything. I got into coaching because it looked like fun. Your motives need to be right. You just need to do the job you've got. You can't be the kind of person who gets into the business looking at what his next job's gonna be. Get into the business looking to do a good job at the job you have. There's too many people in the profession who seem to be focused on what their next job is going to be.
Q: How has the game changed since you started coaching in the 1960s?
A: People throw the ball so much better. The offensive skill. Quarterbacks have evolved so much because of skill camps and quarterback-receiver camps , seven-on-seven and passing leagues and so on. And the formationing has really developed. The same stuff still wins. Winning the turnover battle, winning the kicking game, winning the critical situations. Make the plays in the fourth quarter and you win the game. Period.
Q: But running the ball is still important, no?
A: The numerical truth of it is you can stop someone's running game if you commit enough people to it. So you have to be able to throw the ball. Also the truth is, it's the physical dominance somebody has if they can run the ball and stop the run. It still wins at most any level. Still wins the big game at most any level. Obviously there's exceptions to that.
Q: Your team is passing the ball more now. Some are surprised by this. Should they be?
A: We threw the ball well at Arizona. We threw it as well as we do now. It's circumstance. We've got three true freshman offensive linemen. Our running backs are all unavailable. We're going to keep trying (to run). But we throw it better than we run it.
We're throwing it as well as we have, because Adam (Tafralis) is accurate and we have talented young receivers.
Particularly when you play Hawaii you have to score. Because they're going to score.
Q: You had a very good passing team at UH back in the early 1980s.
A: We had Walter Murray and some other good receivers, Marco Johnson.
Q: What are your thoughts on Hawaii's offense now?
A: It's an effective offense. Very effective. It's not magic. If it was magic, everyone would run it. The truth is June and his staff understand it better than just about anyone else. And they're really good at it and it's marvelously effective.
But it's just like the wishbone. Part of the reason it's effective is it was unique and you had to prepare for it in a short period of time and that's the problem that we have this week. They do the same thing every week, and we have to get ready for something entirely different. That's a preparation problem.
Just like Navy -- the Navy concept is every bit as unique and effective and difficult to defend as the Hawaii concept. They both make it very difficult for a defense, and Paul Johnson and June are the two most learned people in the country at what they're coaching. Neither one of them's right and neither one of them's wrong, but they're doing what they believe in.
Q: How have players changed since you started coaching?
A: I just think they're smarter, they're more dedicated. I think they work harder. I think they don't just accept something because the coach says it. Somebody said at one time, "This kid's a great kid, he's a 'yes, sir,' 'no, sir' kid." I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in someone who tells me what he thinks. I'm interested in someone that's respectful, but tells me what he thinks.
Obviously there's also a time when we're going to say something and they have to do it.
I didn't think that someone saying "yes, sir," "no, sir" meant he respected you. I thought that meant maybe he was just trying to say the right thing. You can't coach him, can't mentor him unless he tells you how he feels.
Q: What are the similarities and differences in your style of coaching and that of June Jones?
A: I really don't know. This is just an observation. I think there are more similarities than differences because the emphasis is so much on developing the players and developing the team as people who care about each other. The Xs and Os part is important, but it's not the most important thing.
Q: Some people in Hawaii were upset with you last year because you left the Warriors out of one of your coaches' polls near the end of the season. What are your thoughts on that?
A: I don't think that's anybody's business. I think I left Hawaii out once after they lost and Houston won. I just vote who I think is the best. I don't vote along conference lines, I just vote what I think.
We spend a lot of time thinking about it and we try to be honest about it.
So if there was a week where I left Hawaii out it was because I thought they should be left out. But they were in my Top 25 in my last poll after the bowl game.