Mack must improve mouth management


POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2009

Lame. Weak. Dumb. Silly.

Greg McMackin could've used any of those words to describe Notre Dame's little dance at the Hawaii Bowl banquet. The Fighting Irish and their fans would still view him as a sore loser, but he would've spun one of the more entertaining yarns at the WAC media preview yesterday, and that would've been that.

Instead, McMackin chose a different word, and the highest paid Hawaii state employee's public comments were repeatedly described as “;stupid”; by his boss. You can add those other modifiers: lame, weak, dumb and silly. And the University of Hawaii made national news because its football coach used a gay slur common to locker rooms but not press conferences.

MAYBE JIM Donovan was handed a million-dollar break.

Perhaps a huge public firestorm ensues in the wake of McMackin's triple faux pas (that's what is most remarkable: in trying to recover from his error, he utters the offending word twice more, cameras and tape recorders still running). Perhaps then the UH athletic director relieves a coach many felt was grossly overpaid at $1.1 million per year—even before yesterday's homophobic bumblefest.

Yeah, a tough way to meet the bottom line.

And I'm guessing it won't happen. Not yet, anyway. As you read this, McMackin is likely reaching out to every alternative lifestyle group he can find.

Today he goes to the principal's office. I think he emerges with plenty of penance, but also his job—barely.

Something along the lines of two weeks unpaid suspension (including a game), and a whole bunch of apologies and some public service announcements about tolerance should suffice. He should also get a warning of one more slip up and you're out.

The thing to remember is all of us in Hawaii have a stake in this, even if we're not gay, even if we're not UH football fans. We pay his salary, we pay him to represent us. We pay him NOT to say stupid things to a pack of reporters, even if he thinks they're his buddies.

McMackin's the one who kept talking about wearing HAWAI'I on the jersey. The Warriors motto now is they “;play for us.”; Well, for better or worse, they speak for us, too.

McMackin loves his job. He worked all his career to become a head coach, and therein lies a problem. When assistant coaches talk to reporters, they're often off the record.

Still, no excuse. McMackin had to be in a daze to realize he wasn't speaking to every major newspaper in the WAC yesterday, not to mention ESPN.

HIS HIRING was a hasty move that seemed right at the time. And he won over the hearts of many that first offseason, shaking hands and kissing babies while offering them scholarships. After June Jones ran away from home, Warrior fans needed someone to believe in, and McMackin gave them that.

Now he's got a lot of apologizing to do—to his bosses, to the university, to the gay community, to the fans, to the entire state.

Also to his team. Last year he forced an offseason bad boy to perform high-noon grass drills after the first practice, in full view of reporters. Maybe a bear crawl or two is in order when he returns from a deserved unpaid leave, and then we can put it behind us.

Greg McMackin broke his own rule: Do not embarrass the program.