Warriors get first look at McMackin’s business plan
No slippers yesterday. Greg McMackin wore shoes to Hawaii's first practice, his butt-kicking shoes.
Celebrity defensive coordinator Jerry Glanville filled up our notebooks and fired up the troops (the ones in Iraq and Manoa). But McMackin stocked the UH trophy case -- in 1999 and again last fall. He's the only person involved with the Warriors who can say he's 2-for-2 in WAC championships.
As a head coach, McMackin doesn't possess the maverick aura of predecessor June Jones. He does, however, know how to get the attention of the players. The kindly grandfather can quickly shift his persona to that of the blade-creased drill sergeant.
"He is a nice guy," said defensive coordinator Cal Lee, another friendly man until you screw around to the detriment of the team. "But this is time to get down and get to business. We need to do the things we need to do and discipline is very important."
Make that discipline and adaptability. The concept of sudden change was a point of emphasis yesterday, and will be throughout camp and the season.
It means at anytime during practice the entire team may be assembled for, as Monty Python used to say, something completely different. Like basketball-style suicide sprints, which McMackin believes are of more value than the 220-yard conditioning test Jones preferred. To Mack, furlongs are for horses.
"You don't know when that horn's going to go off," defensive tackle Rocky Savaiigaea said. "You've got to be ready to go run those sprints, come back and do drills again."
The goal is to always be prepared to take advantage of a sudden shift of momentum in your favor, or hold down the fort when it swings the other way. The 2008 Warriors won't play fastbreak football like Jones' teams; turning points will be fewer and more crucial without the calculator-busting offense of the previous two seasons.
"Different situations in the game. All of a sudden, turnovers," Lee said. "Fumble, interception, boom, be ready to go."
The Warriors have dealt with sudden change since January. Jones left and McMackin -- who was ready to be the sidekick again at SMU -- stuck around and began bailing water as quickly as he could.
Seven months of pitching wedges and rubber huli-huli chicken can take its toll, but he's already got a start on next spring's recruiting class (what a concept). And Mack found time to shake more hands and kiss more babies than McCain and Obama combined.
All the while, he warned us of sudden change. The defense is now the face of the team, and is expected to carry the offense while it re-learns the run-and-shoot basics; the 2006 attack clicked because of the plays, in 2007 it was the players.
Still doubt this man's seriousness? At the end of yesterday's practice, a high-profile player performed grass drills, at high noon, sans teammates, McMackin walking alongside as his only companion.
"We have no stars," Mack said. "We just have a bunch of guys who are going to represent Hawaii and the University of Hawaii the right way."
The message was clear to all. A legitimate Heisman candidate on the roster, like last year, forces you into a hierarchy. No such thing now.