Warriors cheer pick of McMackin at UH
Many in and out of the program feel that Greg McMackin is a great fit for the job
STORY SUMMARY »
The hiring of Greg McMackin as University of Hawaii head football coach drew praise yesterday from players hanging around the athletic complex and from the state's top elected official.
"We've had such a good choice right before our eyes, so I'm glad that the university made the right decision," said Gov. Linda Lingle. "I think it was a great call."
With the coaching drama settled and the staff immersed in recruiting, the players can look ahead to spring practice and the 2008 season, which opens Aug. 30 against powerhouse Florida and Heisman winner Tim Tebow.
"To lose coach (June) Jones, he's one of a kind. But to know we secured our future with coach McMackin, it means a lot," said senior linebacker Adam Leonard, who served on the nine-person selection committee.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Greg McMackin, new Warriors head coach, was congratulated by University of Hawaii football players yesterday just before an official announcement at a press conference. The players were headed to the Legislature opening, where they were honored.
FULL STORY »
Greg McMackin had just completed a news conference followed by one-on-one interviews with media members before hurrying off to the opening of the state Legislature -- where the Hawaii football team was being honored -- greeting various well-wishers with nearly every step.
Amid the hubbub swirling around his introduction as the Warriors' new head coach, McMackin's whirlwind day did not allow much time to start making plans for a late-summer trip to Florida.
"Gainesville? I haven't thought about that yet," McMackin said.
McMackin will make his UH head coaching debut Aug. 30 against the Gators -- expected to be among the nation's top-ranked teams entering next season -- and the players he will lead into "The Swamp" can now target that date with a sense of stability regarding the program's leadership.
"Everything can now go forward," senior defensive back Desmond Thomas said. "We have some assurance and some direction."
Coming off a 12-1 season capped by a loss in the Sugar Bowl in UH's first Bowl Championship Series appearance, the program was thrown into flux by the departure of June Jones to Southern Methodist University.
Nine frequently uncertain days later, the school announced McMackin's ascension from defensive coordinator to head coach. He had his formal introduction yesterday morning at the Stan Sheriff Center.
McMackin's hiring was welcome news to players lingering around the UH athletic complex after the news conference, as well as to the state's top elected official.
"I think it was a great selection," Gov. Linda Lingle said. "I think what we needed to do was move on quickly. You know, things happen in life, and you can sit around and dwell on it -- stretch it out and live with the agony -- or you can move on.
"We've had such a good choice right before our eyes, so I'm glad that the university made the right decision. I think it was a great call."
Asked whether McMackin was worth the $1.1 million he will be paid annually during a five-year contract, Lingle responded, "That's not my job to make that determination, but I really think he was a great choice and the right choice."
With the coaching drama settled and the staff immersed in recruiting, the players can look ahead to spring ball and the 2008 season.
"To lose Coach Jones, he's one of a kind. But to know we secured our future with coach McMackin, it means a lot," said senior linebacker Adam Leonard, who served on the nine-person selection committee.
"He's not Coach Jones; he's Greg McMackin. I think he's going to blaze his own trail, and we're going to see a lot of success. ... He's bringing his whole family out here, he's totally committed and that's what we need right now."
McMackin had served as UH defensive coordinator for two seasons, 1999 and 2007, with the Warriors winning Western Athletic Conference titles both years. He coached for two NFL teams and at 10 other colleges, winning a national title at Miami in Florida.
The players voiced appreciation for not only his experience, but the personal touch he brings to his job.
"He's a people person, and he takes his time to get to know you," Thomas said. "He'll take the time to get to know Colt Brennan, and he'll take the time to know somebody that's on the third-string scout team. ... Players respond to him well."
The promotion from within means the returning Warriors will have a measure of comfort with the staff as well as the schemes the Warriors plan to run. McMackin will continue to have a hand in the defense, and receivers coach Ron Lee is expected to be elevated to offensive coordinator and retain the run-and-shoot system the Warriors ran during Jones' nine seasons.
"The worry was for our offense that we might get somebody new who might change up the offense," senior slot receiver Mike Washington said. "You kept hearing rumors that we're going to change and who's going to stay or who's going to leave.
"But with Coach McMackin there I'm pretty sure everything will be the same so we can keep the ball rolling. I feel pretty confident. Coach McMackin is real cool, he came from the (NFL), he knows the ropes already, so it's all good."
Hawaii basketball coach Bob Nash can relate to the position McMackin was in yesterday. It was back in April that Nash was granted a promotion from associate to head coach of the Rainbow Warrior program.
"You get into, 'Who's the right guy for the program?' I think they found the right guy for the program, and I think he'll do well," Nash said. "I've known Coach Mack since '99, and he's a very outgoing guy, real easy to talk to. So I think he'll do a great job."
Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes contributed to this report
UH mum on who applied for coaching job
The University of Hawaii denied a Star-Bulletin request yesterday seeking the names of all applicants to the football head coaching position.
UH-Manoa Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw considers the school's hiring a confidential personnel matter, said her spokesman, Gregg Takayama.
An attorney at the Office of Information Practices, the state agency that decides whether records should be released, said recent public interest about the university's football program might outweigh privacy rights of people who applied for the job.