Price dished out his share of katooshes


POSTED: Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Who are the greatest 100 players in University of Hawaii football history? The Star-Bulletin reveals “;The Centurions”; in celebration of the 100th anniversary of UH football

It wasn't always Perry on the left, Price on the right. Some recall when it was Ellis on the left, Price all over the place.

Left tackle Agenhart Ellis played with Larry Price on the University of Hawaii football team in 1963 and '64, before Price became an assistant coach, then head coach.

“;A man, older than us. And he played that way,”; Ellis said.

Way before radio stardom, Price was a rugged 6-foot-1, 240-pound bulldog home from the Army, playing wherever needed, up and down the lines. Normally middle guard on defense and right tackle on offense.

Young guys, like our photographer, Jamm Aquino, mostly know “;The Coach”; as Michael W. Perry's partner on KSSK. Middle-aged dudes like me remember him as head coach at UH. Older folks will tell you Price was a heckuva player, one worthy of “;The Centurions,”; the Star-Bulletin's Top 100 series that starts today. Price comes in at No. 96.

Price among our honorees created a conundrum. Since he's a former UH head coach, we wanted his input. No conflict arose, though; in the several conversations with him about this endeavor, the name “;Larry Price”; never came up.

Star-Bulletin vets Lyle Nelson and Ben Wood both vouched for his skill and toughness.

And teammates, they know best. “;He was a great player and a natural leader,”; Ellis said.

Price didn't have the grades for college out of Roosevelt, but now owns more degrees than a thermometer. On the field, innate intelligence matched his physicality.

“;I always knew all the plays for all 11 players,”; Price said.

UH dropped football in 1961. Former star Jimmy Asato was brought in to revive the program. One of the first things he did was recruit Price. The 22-year-old sergeant was digging foxholes through ice in Germany and ready to come home.

Eventually he became coach, and resigned before he could be let go after the 1976 season.

“;I was the emcee when (basketball coach) Red Rocha was fired at the banquet. I wasn't going to let them do that to me.”;

After UH, he joined the Los Angeles Rams as a free agent.

“;Rosie Grier, Merlin Olsen. These guys slapping my head. I kept telling myself I was learning.”;

Price, 74, said he cherishes all encounters with former 'Bows.

“;It makes it all worthwhile, late in life bumping into them. You forget all that BS about who was good and who wasn't good. I just feel lucky that I was there when they were there.”;

There are many other Larry Price personas. Investigative reporter. The guy who popularized KATOOSH. Columnist, professor. Controversial curmudgeon. Stories for another day.

And of course, radio personality. Perry on the left, Price on the right.

“;Cec Heftel told me years ago that if I do this job right, nobody will know I played football.”;

After 2 hours with Price, Jamm asked me, “;Was he ever the head coach?”;

So Heftel, the savvy broadcast exec and politician, was partly right. People who encounter Larry Price remember different things. But no one ever forgets him.

See tomorrow's Star-Bulletin for five more UH football greats, and starbulletin.com for more on “;The Centurions.”;