An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, November 13, 1996

Getting smoked is no way
to get rolled over

AFTER watching and listening to Fred vonAppen for nearly a year now, at least one thing is certain; everyone seems to know where they stand with this guy.

Too often, what people tell you these days is not really what they have on their minds.

Not so with vonAppen. On Sunday he more or less demanded that his three-year contract be rolled over. This from a man who is leading the state's football team to the worst record in school history, albeit with players that he has told us time and again are neither the caliber he is used to coaching nor as talented as they need to be to win. I assume he means to win more than one conference game, but that's another topic for another day.

He topped it off by basically telling athletic director Hugh Yoshida, roll me over in the clover or I'll make your life miserable for as long as both of us are still employed by the citizens of this state. Or, you can fire me, and we'll both be out of a job quicker than my boys can fall behind by three touchdowns to BYU.

This is a man with confidence. He knows he could walk out of Yoshida's office with a pink slip in one hand and five job offers in the other. Take the contract rollover or leave it, pal, I have enough friends in the business. I'll be working again by next spring and you'll still be stuck with a lousy football team and a budget shortfall because of it.

So you can see, Yoshida's in a bit of a spot. He's already paying off vonAppen's predecessor, Bob Wagner, to the tune of a couple hundred grand. He can't afford to fire vonAppen. Nor should he. Besides, if he does it will reflect poorly on him. He hired the outspoken one in the first place.

What to do, Hugh, what to do?

Get tough, that's what. First off, decide that you're going to do everything you can to upgrade the football program. Don't just tell vonAppen you're going to do this or you plan to do that. Sit the proper people down, decide exactly what needs to be done and then get your butts in gear and work your plan.

Inaction is not something vonAppen, or the rest of us for that matter, will put up with for long. Guarans-ball-bearin's the fans are tired of seeing their alma mater, and their children, get whipped up and down the field week after week. Fans everywhere love a winner and they will spend their money to watch one play. Check out the volleyball team. Losers? Well, check your Aloha Stadium attendance figures for the answer to that one.

NOW the tough part. After you have made the commitment to the football team - a total buy-in as it were - tell vonAppen you'll roll his contract over when his offensive linemen start rolling a few defensive tackles.

VonAppen has told us for a year about how there was no chance to recruit after he signed on. Fine. Here's your chance big guy. The silly season is fast approaching; high school hotshots will start signing letters to play football and study a little bit, too, in February. Show us that you can get players to come here and then next year get those players to win more games than they lose. If not next year, then you have the following year. It is a three-year contract, right?

If insufficient progress has been made after three years, why should the people of Hawaii be stuck with your bill?

Pressure is a fine motivator.

This is Hawaii, Fred. You don't have to win the national championship for people to love you. Just don't get smoked by San Jose State. Don't lose 66-0. Don't cry about playing at altitude or on the road or in a rusty stadium.

Get yourself some good, tough players who can win you some games. Then show the people you can get them to run your offensive and defensive schemes and cover a punt properly. Don't let Utah and BYU steal the best local players. Win eight or nine times a year and your contract will start rolling over faster than the slots at the California.

Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.

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