An Honest
Day’s Word

By Joe Edwards

Wednesday, August 27, 1997


Want good football?
Take Murphy’s lead

MONDAY night at the Na Koa Football Club banquet, University of Hawaii president Kenneth Mortimer began the night's program with a statement that those in the private sector no doubt found revealing but unfortunately not too surprising.

He prefaced his glowing remarks about the opening of the new football locker room by saying that getting a project of that scale done in a relatively little amount of time is practically unheard of in Hawaii.

I found myself wondering, "Why is that, Mr. President? You're supposedly a mover and shaker and you rub elbows with people who allegedly are movers and shakers in this state. Why in tarnation (not my actual thought-word, but this is a family publication) wouldn't you be able to remodel a locker room in quick fashion?"

And if it did take a long time, why would you put up with it?

I guess it's an attitude that comes with developing a co-dependence on the state. Makes sense. It's a state-run university. I understand more clearly now, the frustration football coach Fred vonAppen must feel.

PEOPLE want a quality football team, but they don't seem to want to make it happen themselves. To build a first-rate Division I football program, more folks need to do as those in Na Koa and the Honolulu Quarterback Club do -- help make it happen.

If that means rattling some cages to raise money for the team -- do it.

If that means buying tickets to the games even if you're not positive the Rainbows will even be a top team in the Western Athletic Conference -- do it.

If that means, and this one is for you Mr. Mortimer, taking some initiative and making a commitment to a worthwhile group of individuals, then do it.

Leaving people guessing is no way to run a business, and let's face it, that's what big-time athletics is.

You're not going to get anything done standing around waiting for the government to bail you out.

Fittingly, Don Murphy, owner of Murphy's Bar and Grill in downtown Honolulu, was recognized for doing the very thing I've just suggested. Murphy obviously wants a quality football program more than most people -- certainly more than anyone involved with the state.

This man presented a check to the football program for more than $50,000. That virtually bankrolls the team's training table for the upcoming season. That's the kind of thing that is done with routine at most universities that are serious about their student programs. It doesn't matter whether it's the English department or the football team. If you want to get things done, you -- not someone else -- have to be the motivator.

Well done, Murph.

NOW, that said, Fred, it's time for the football team to show progress, too. It is great that the team has upgraded its academic achievement and basically has stayed off the police blotter. Good kids are a joy to be around, whether they are your own children or those you happen to be coaching.

It also is evident to anyone who takes the time to watch that this team has more talent and desire on both sides of the ball than it did last season. That's great, too. You're doing your job.

The University of Minnesota comes to town for a football game Saturday afternoon.

It's high time to stop the moaning and complaining about contracts and politics and who knows what else.

Yes, Fred, you're probably right about 90 percent of everything you've ever pointed out that needs to be done to upgrade your program. But I would assume you had your eyes open when you took the job.

The bottom line is this. It's time to win some football games. Lead the sloths on the upper campus by example. Show Mr. Mortimer how to get things done.



Joe Edwards is sports editor of the Star-Bulletin.




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