By Paul Arnett

Friday, August 29, 1997

VonAppen, Cayetano
both have faults

IF you get an invitation to go to Washington Place any time soon, it might be a good idea to show up or Gov. Cayetano may break into his own rendition of, "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to."

Last fall, after listening to a verbal outburst by University of Hawaii head football coach Fred vonAppen that the playing field he was competing on was about as level as the next governor's race, Gov. Cayetano kindly asked a few friends to chip in $450,000.

He then thought it would be a good idea to hold a little gala at his house, invite over the donors and have the UH coaching staff endorse the checks by drawing a few plays next to the autographed signatures.

Had that happened, everyone would have gone home happy. And let's be honest, vonAppen should have attended the get-together, thanked him and then said with his arm around Cayetano's shoulder, "Now Ben, about my 30-point plan . . . "

When no explanation was given for the no-show, Gov. Cayetano let it be known he was displeased with the slight, but says he had nothing to do with the decision of UH administrators not to roll over vonAppen's contract.

VonAppen restated his frustrations in a Star-Bulletin story on Wednesday. The governor yesterday lashed back at vonAppen's complaints and said he won't seek donations from the business community for the UH football program again this year.

WELL, he showed 'em. But just who, exactly -- vonAppen or the program the governor claims he cares about?

Questions at yesterday's press conference about the timing of Cayetano's outburst were carefully sidestepped. The governor didn't want anyone to think he's not a fan of UH football.

But go tell that to the young men who have spent the last three weeks busting their butts in the hot afternoon sun. Explain to those guys just exactly how withdrawing private support helps them. It's like the old Jerry Tarkanian joke, "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky, they put Cleveland State on probation."

No matter which side you're on, the players suffer in this scenario. So do the local fans, whose main concerns are Xs and Os, not dollars and cents.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Hawaii football team meets the University of Minnesota in the season opener at Aloha Stadium. A prior engagement on Maui will keep the governor from attending.

That's too bad because the Gophers have a new, no-nonsense coach of their own, who would probably crinkle his forehead if he knew the particulars of this latest sideshow.

GLEN Mason went to Minnesota with a list of demands that would have sent UH administrators scurrying for cover. Five months later, he has a remodeled on-campus locker room, second-floor coaches' offices, practice fields and an expanded Metrodome locker room that can handle 105 players.

That state hired Mason to take a program mired in mediocrity longer than the Rainbows and make it a contender in the Big Ten, starting tomorrow. No thank-you parties on a school night allowed.

Mason told them what he needed, and they went out and got it for him. As he likes to say, "I don't have ulcers. I give them." Good thing Hawaii didn't hire him. He would take one look at that $450,000 and say, "Folks, I think you're about $2 million light."

With that in mind, maybe the governor can concede that vonAppen knows more about a Division I program than he does and there's only room in this town for one governor and one Division I head football coach.

Maybe then, when the governor gives his first campaign speech, he won't have to say, "Now I know four years ago when I took office that Hawaii was still a Division I football program, but . . . ''

Paul Arnett has been covering sports
for the Star-Bulletin since 1990.

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