Odom left lasting marks


POSTED: Thursday, July 02, 2009

For all of football's seeming complexity, Mark Odom preferred to break the game down to the simplest terms.

“;Every play you either won or you lost and you have to beat the guy in front of you,”; Odom said of his on-field philosophy. “;It's a chess match, but it's also just imposing your will on someone else.”;

Sure, the schemes devised by defensive coordinator Rich Ellerson often cleared Odom's path to the quarterback. But few could finish a play quite like Odom, and no Hawaii player did so more often.

“;Mark just had a burning desire to succeed,”; former Hawaii head coach Bob Wagner said.

“;The play I remember most vividly is at Utah and we needed to get their offense off the field to win the game. He rushed the passer and basically crawled on all fours and tackled the quarterback around the legs. When he needed to make a play, outstanding players make 'em.”;

Relishing the duel with an offensive tackle, Odom dropped quarterbacks 36 times in his four years as a Rainbow Warriors outside linebacker, a mark that remains in the Hawaii record book.

“;It's nice to have, considering how much more passing there is now,”; Odom said. “;As you get older, nobody believes you played football. At least you can Google it and say, 'I was something back in the day.' “;

These days, Odom is a successful ticket broker based in Seattle. While his job has allowed him to attend some of the biggest events around, nothing can replace the rush of being on the field.

“;You never know when something special is about to happen,”; Odom said, “;and you're just thankful to be a part of it.”;

The night of Oct. 28, 1989, probably falls under the category of “;something special.”;

On the night of Hawaii's cathartic 56-14 blowout of Brigham Young, No. 56 in green savored a landmark evening himself, recording four of UH's 10 sacks of Cougars quarterback Ty Detmer. Both figures still stand as UH single-game records.

“;I know I'd never felt like that before. ... I knew it had to happen,”; Odom said of breaking the Cougars' 10-game hex over the Rainbows. “;I remember walking into Aloha Stadium and feeling it was going to be.”;

Spurred by wrenching losses the previous two years, Odom ravaged a mammoth BYU offensive line that “;just did not have an idea of what to do,”; against Ellerson's game plan.

“;I came from everywhere, left side, right side, from the secondary. They never knew if I was coming or going,”; Odom said.

“;I also remember the crowd being so loud and the energy in the stadium, it got to be too much. It got to be overwhelming. I don't think there was any way they were going to win that game.”;

That Odom would become such a popular figure in Hawaii football seemed unlikely at best just three years earlier as he puzzled over Long Beach Poly teammate Chris Roscoe's decision to join the Rainbows.

“;We were like, 'Why'd you go to Hawaii?' “; Odom recalled. “;(Roscoe) was like, 'This is for real, you just have to come down and see it.' “;

Watching UH hang with Michigan on ESPN in 1986 convinced Odom to join Roscoe, and when Wagner planned to redshirt the true freshman the following year, Odom—as he would demonstrate 36 times—refused to be held back.

“;Mark and Rich Ellerson talked me into letting him play and he made a big difference in our defense,”; Wagner said. “;He was so competitive and wanted to play so badly, and we really couldn't block him on the scout team.”;

Not only did Odom make an instant impact, he also helped shape the program's future. He hosted prep playmakers Darrick Branch and Jeff Sydner on their recruiting trip, and both ended up signing with the Rainbows.

But Odom's words weren't the main selling point.

“;I don't think Mark Odom had to say anything,”; Branch said. “;I had already found out what kind of player Mark Odom was. ... You want to play with guys that have pride and leave it on the field, they play to win. That's what I wanted to be.”;

Odom continues to follow the Warriors and promises to be at Qwest Field when Hawaii visits Seattle on Sept. 12 to face Washington State.

Although the rush won't be the same, Odom's pride in the program remains.

“;Getting to the (Aloha Bowl in 1989) was a big deal. Getting ranked was a big deal. Winning the game against BYU was tremendous,”; Odom said. “;There were a lot of firsts and that's what made it special.”;


Jason Kaneshiro covers UH football for the Star-Bulletin. Tomorrow we unveil No. 28.