Local man guilty of Gator aid
Hiram de Fries' considerable Hawaii connections come in handy at the State Capitol. That's where the retired oil man lobbies for bills regarding energy sources.
But the word was out last session.
"I get a lot of heat from the Legislators," de Fries says, chuckling. "About football."
Don't let this Punahou grad's local ways fool you.
He's a Gator.
Not by birth. He's born-and-raised in the islands, a senior member of one of the state's most well-known sports families. Played everything for the Buffanblu before going to Colorado State for football. Law school, high school coaching and a hugely successful career with Shell Oil followed.
Along the way he met Urban Meyer and they quickly became very good friends.
Now de Fries, 67, is a sort of consigliere to Meyer. He's a volunteer assistant and will be on the Florida side of the field a week from Saturday.
Some guys retire and take up gardening or golf; de Fries became part of an elite college football program.
He is well-acquainted with Cal and Ron Lee, as well as Rich Miano and Alex Gerke. He knows of Greg McMackin by reputation.
"He's a real solid football coach, and teams take on the persona of their coaches. You look at the Hawaii tape and the thing you notice is they play hard. We don't expect that to change," says de Fries, in a phone interview from Gainesville, Fla., yesterday. "Nobody's taking this as a warm-up. Everyone's anxious to see what kind of team Hawaii brings."
He says the fact that when last seen the Warriors were absorbing a Dawg-pounding from UF's fellow SEC powerhouse Georgia is meaningless.
"Hawaii's coming off a BCS game and that's the way we look at it," de Fries says.
When he comes to visit his relatives and the lawmakers, de Fries manages to sneak a peek at some of the island's top football prospects.
Sure, he'd like to drink the Warriors' milkshake. One natural resource in particular, Punahou linebacker Manti Te'o, has caught his eye.
"Manti's a great football player. I saw him in the Saint Louis game last year," de Fries says, adding he'd look fabulous in orange and blue. "Absolutely. Having said that, I don't think he's the only one. Our recruiting guys are in communication with players from Hawaii all the time."
Meyer has always surveyed Hawaii talent, going back to Utah days.
No Gators yet. Maybe in the future, but fuel costs could factor in.
"I see the world energy situation always being precarious, as long as it's oil-based. Because of Hawaii's location, it really impacts more," says de Fries, expert in such things. "Parents will have a hard time getting here to watch their sons' games because of the higher fuel prices."
This should help UH fend off some of the mainland recruiters.
Something for Warrior fans to keep in mind. We all need cheering up while filling up.