Former UH coach hasn’t changed a bit
Amidst all the first-time handshakes and greetings at Aloha Stadium, a familiar voice rang out across row after row of empty bleachers.
"What is this, a country club?" bellowed Mike Cavanaugh, Oregon State offensive line coach and honorary assistant for the Kai (West) team at the 2008 Hula Bowl.
The target of his ire was a tardy Brandon Rodd, the Aiea High graduate-turned-Arizona State star, who made sure to hustle from the sideline back to drills with his fellow O-linemen.
Yesterday's practice was one of three before the selected seniors play at 1 p.m. on national TV on Saturday. While several more Hawaii players had been late additions to the Hula Bowl roster, it was the familiar bald-headed sight and sounds of Cavanaugh that resonated the most.
The man affectionately referred to as "Coach Cav" was in charge of the Warriors' offensive line from 1999 to 2004, and returned to duty coaching two of his former protgs at Hawaii -- Larry Sauafea and All-American Hercules Satele -- for the first time since.
"Same old Cav from 5 years ago," said Sauafea, one of the late Hula Bowl additions. Some things stayed with Sauafea from his freshman year, after which Cavanaugh left for OSU, and the profanity-laced diatribes of his position coach were definitely one of them. "Just his raspy old voice. And his jokes, he's fun to be around."
After holding a withering gaze at Rodd for a few moments, Cavanaugh couldn't help but smile. He tried to recruit Rodd to UH as a high school junior.
"I would have came here for him," Rodd said. "Good thing I didn't because he left. But he takes care of us ... he takes me out to dinner when he's in town (playing at ASU in Tempe)."
Cavanaugh was clearly enjoying mentoring the familiar faces. Defensive lineman Karl Noa and cornerback Myron Newberry were other Hawaii Hula Bowl additions, joining receivers Jason Rivers and C.J. Hawthorne, safety Jake Patek and D-lineman Michael Lafaele.
"Come on, Larry, show me the old stuff. Bring me back to the old days," he said to Sauafea in one of his more PG-rated moments during a blocking drill.
Of course, just like the old days, the four-letter words were out in full force.
Most recently, he was with the Beavers when they dealt Hawaii their only home loss in the 11-3 campaign of 2006.
There were no hard feelings to be detected from anyone on the field, and Cavanaugh watched the team almost every step of the way during their recent banner season.
"It's kind of neat to come back and coach 'em," Cavanaugh said, reminiscing how Satele was originally a linebacker when he was recruited. "It's fun to come back to Hawaii. This is my second home."
Cavanaugh was in no mood to talk about the recent departure of coach June Jones and the subsequent opening at Hawaii, or the termination of athletic director Herman Frazier. His brother-in-law, New York Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, has been mentioned as a possible successor to Jones.
He wasn't concerned about how the returning Warriors will handle the transition.
"Kids are kids, and kids are resilient," Cavanaugh said. "Obviously they'll miss June. Whoever the next coach is, they'll believe in him and play for him."
Pugnacious though he may be, Cavanaugh jumped at the chance to join OSU coach Mike Riley when they conferred about the Hula Bowl during the Beavers' 21-14 win over Maryland in the Dec. 28 Emerald Bowl.
"Hell yeah," Cavanaugh said.
He turned, and left it at that.